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• te Steiner 



7/- net. 

ELI. By C. M. Peaks. 

MISER'S MONEY. By I'm N Iiiii.i.- 



(,(>ld and iron. by joseph 






"REGIMENT OF WOMEN," AND "first THE blade' 


Br.ETHOTEN, Op. 57. 

Ltndon ■ Gillian: li, i 


Messrs. Mitchell and Bent will shortly issue ' The 
Life of Madala Grey ' by Anita Serle : a critical 
biography based largely on private correspondence 
and intimate personal knowledge. 

That was in The Times a fortnight ago. And now 
the reviews are beginning — 

The Cult of Madala Grey. . . 

The Problem of Madala Grey. . . 

The Secret of Madala Grey. . . 

I wish they wouldn't. Oh, I wish they wouldn't. 

No admirer of the late Madala Grey's arresting 
art can fail to be absorbed by these intimate and 
unexpected revelations . . . 

Delicately, unerringly, Miss Serle traces to its 
source the inspiration of that remarkable writer. . . 
And — this will please Anita most of all — 

We ourselves have never joined in the chorus of 
praise that, a decade ago, greeted the appearance of 
' Eden Walls ' and its successors, and in our opinion 
Miss Serle, in her biographical enthusiasm, uses the 
zvord genius a little too often and too easily. Madala 
Grey has yet to be tried by that subtlest of literary 
critics, the Man with the Scythe. But whether or 
not we agree with Miss Serle' s estimate of her heroine, 
there can be no two questions as to the literary value 
of the ' Life ' itself. It definitely places Miss Serle 


L EG E N 1) 

among the BosweUs, and as we close Us fascinating 
pages ttr find ourselves wondering whether our grand- 
children will remember Miss Serle as the biographer 
ofMadala Grey, or Madala Grey as the subject matter 
ninth/, of a chronicle that has become a classic. 

That is to say — La reine est morte. Vive la feint ! 
Anita will certainly be pleased. Well, I suppose 
she's got what she wants, what she's always wanted. 
She isn't a woman to change. The new portrait in 
the Bookman might have been taken when I knew 
her : the mouth's a trifle harder, the hair a trifle 
greyer; but no real change. But it amuses me 
that there should be her portrait in all the papers, 
and none of Madala Grey; not even in the Life 
itself. I can hear Anita's regretful explanations 
in her soft, convincing voice. She will make a 
useful little paragraph out of it — 

Miss Serle, whose ' Life of Madala Grey ' is causing 
no small stir in literary circles, tells us that the brilliant 
novelist had so great a dislike of being photographed 
that there is no record of her features in existence, 
.l/i odd foible in one rvho, in our own recollection, 
was not only a popular writer but a strikingly beautiful 

And yet, from her heavy, solitary frame (we have 
no other pictures in our den) that ' beautiful woman,' 
with her flowered scarf and her handful of cowslips, 
is looking down at this moment at me — at mc, and 
the press cuttings, and The Times, and Anita's 
hateful book. And she says, unmistakeably — 



' Does it matter ? What does it matter ? ' laughing 
a little as she says it. 

Then I laugh too, because Anita knows all about 
the portrait. 

After all, does it matter? Does it matter what 
Anita says and does and writes ? And why should 
I of all people grudge Anita her success ? Honestly, 
I don't. And I don't doubt that the book is well 
written : not that I shall read it. There's no need : 
I know exactly what she will have written : I know 
how convincing it will be. But it won't be true. 
It won't be Madala Grey. 

Of course Anita would say — ' My dear Jenny, 
what do you know about it ? You never even met 
her. You heard us, her friends, her intimates, 
talking about her for — how long ? An hour ? 
Two hours ? And on the strength of that — that, 
eaves-dropping five years ago ' (I can hear the nip 
in her voice still) ' you are so amusing as to challenge 
my personal knowledge of my dearest friend. 
Possibly you contemplate writing the story of 
Madala Grey yourself? If so, pray send me a 
copy.' And then the swish of her skirt. She always 
wore trains in those days, and she always glided 
away before one could answer. 

But I could answer. I remember that evening 
so well. I don't believe I've forgotten a word or a 
movement, and if I could only write it down, those 
two hours would tell, as Anita's book never will, the 
story of Madala Grey. 



I ought to be able t<> write; because Anita is my 
mother's cousin; though I never Baw her till 1 was 

Mother died when I was eighteen. 

If she had not been ill SO long it would have he. i, 
harder. As it was— but there's no use in writing 
down that black time. Afterwards I didn't know 
what to do. The pension had stopped, of course. 
I'd managed to teach myself typing, though Mother 
couldn't be left much ; but I didn't know shorthand, 
and I couldn't get work, and my money was 
dwindling, and I was getting scared. I was ready 
to worship Anita when her letter came. She was 
sorry about Mother and she wanted a secretary. 
If I could type I could come. 

I remember how excited I was. I'd always lived 
in such a tiny place and we couldn't afford Mudie's. 
To go to London, and meet interesting people, and 
live with a real writer, seemed too good to be true. 
And it helped that Anita and her mother were 
relations. Mother used to stay with Great -aunt 
Serle when she was little. Somehow that made- 
things easier to me when I was missing Mother more 
than usual. 

In the end, after all those expectations, I was only 
three weeks with Anita. They were a queer three 
weeks. I was afraid of her. She was one of tlio e 
people who make you feel guilty. But she was 
kind to me. I typed most of the day, for she was a 
lluent worker and never spared either of us; but 



she took me to the theatre once, and I used to pour 
out when interesting people came to tea. In the 
first fortnight I met nine novelists and a poet ; but 
I never found out who they were, because they all 
called each other by their Christian names and 
you couldn't ask Anita questions. She had such a 
way of asking you why you asked. She used to 
glide about the room in a cloud of chiffon and 
cigarette smoke — she had half-shut pale eyes just 
the colour of the smoke — and pour out a stream of 
beautiful English in a pure cool voice ; but if they 
interrupted her she used to stiffen and stop dead 
and in a minute she had glided away and begun to 
talk to someone else. Old Mrs. Serle used to sit 
in a corner and knit. She never dropped a stitch; 
but she always had her eyes on Anita. She was 
different from the rest of my people. She had an 
accent, not cockney exactly, but odd. She had had 
a hard life, I believe. Mother said of her once that 
her courage made up for everything. But she 
never told me what the everything was. Great- 
aunt's memory was shaky. One day she would 
scarcely know you, and another day she would 
be sensible and kind, very kind. She liked parties. 
People used to come and talk to her because she 
made them laugh; but every now and then, when 
Anita was being brilliant about something, she would 
put up her long gnarled finger and say — ' Hush ! 
Listen to my daughter ! ' and her eyes would twinkle. 
But I never knew if she were proud of her or not. 


I. EG E N n 

Everybody s.» id thai Anita was brilliant. She 
could take a hook l<» pieces so that yon saw every 
good bit and every bad bit separated away into 
little compartments. Bui she spoiled things for 

you. hooks .Mid people, at least she did for me. 
She sneered. She said of t he Baxter girl once, for 
instance — 'She's really too tactful. If you go to 
tea with her you are sure to be introduced to your 
oldest friend.' And again — 'She always likes the 
right people for the wrong reasons.' 

Of course one knows what she meant, but I liked 
the Baxter girl all the same. Beryl Baxter — but 
everyone called her the Baxter girl. She was kind 
to me because I was Anita's cousin, and she used to 
talk to me when Anita wasn't in the mood for her. 
She asked me to call her ' Beryl ' almost at once. 
Anita used to be awfully rude to her sometimes, 
and then again she would have her to supper and 
spend an evening going through her MSS. and I 
could tell that she was giving her valuable help. 
The Baxter girl used to listen and agree so eagerly 
and take it away to re-write. I thought she was 
dreadfully grateful. I hated to hear her. And 
when she was gone Anita would lean back in her 
chair with a dead look on her face and say — 

" God help her readers ! Jenny, open the 
window. That girl reeks of patchouli." And then 
— " Why do I waste my time? " 

And Great -aunt Serle in her corner would chuckle 
and poke and mutter, but not loud — 



' Why does she waste her time ? Listen to my 
daughter ! " 

The next time the Baxter girl came Anita would 
hardfy speak to her. 

The Baxter girl seemed to take it as a matter of 
course. But once she said to me, with a look on her 
face as if she were defending herself — 

'' Ah — but you don't write. You're not keen. 
You don't know what it means to be in the set." 

" But such heaps of people come to see Anita," 
I said, " people she hardly knows." 

" They're only the fringes," said the Baxter girl 
complacently. " They're not in the Grey set. 
They don't come to the Nights. At least, only a 
few. Jasper Flood, of course — you've met him, 
haven't you ? — and Lila Howe — Masquerade, you 
know, and Sir Fortinbras." The Baxter girl always 
ticketed everyone she mentioned. " And the 
Whitneys. She used to stay with the Whitneys. 
And Roy Huth. And of course Kent Rehan." 

"Kent Rehan?" 

" The Kent Rehan," said the Baxter girl. 

Then I remembered. The vicar's wife always 
sent Mother the Academy catalogue after she had 
been up to town. I used to cut out the pictures I 
liked, and I liked Kent Rehan's. They had wind 
blowing through them, and sunshine, and jolly 
blobs that I knew must be raw colour, and always 
the same woman. But you could never see her face, 
only a cheek curve or a shoulder line. They were 



in the catalogue every year, and so I I * » I < I the Baxter 
girl. She laughed. 

" Yrs. Ik^'s always on i 1 » < - line. Anita says that's 
the worst she knows of him. And of COUTSe the 

veiled lady " she laughed again, knowingly, 

' Hut there is one full face. I believe. The Spring 

Song he calls it. But it's never been shown. 
Anita's seen it. She told me. He keeps it locked 
away in his studio. They say he's in love with her." 

"With whom?" 

" Madala Grey, of course." 

I said — 

'•Who is Madala Grey?" 

The Baxter girl had sunk into the cushions until 
she was prone. I had been wondering with the bit 
of mind that wasn't listening what the people at 
home would have said to her, with her cobweb 
stockings (it was November) and her coloured combs 
and her sprawl. It was a relief to see her sit up 

" ' Who's Madala Grey ! ' " Her mouth stayed 
open after she'd finished I he sentence. 

"Yes," I said. "Who is she?" 

" You mean to say you've never heard of Madala 
Grey? You've never read Eden Walls/' Is there 
anyone in England who hasn't rend Eden WaJllsf** 

" Heaps," I said. She annoyed me. She — they 
— they all thought me a fool at Anita's. 

The Baxter girl sighed luxuriously. 

' My word, I envy you ! I wish I was reading 



Eden Walls for the first time — or Ploughed Fields. 
I don't care so much about The Resting-place" 
She laughed. " At least — one's not supposed to 
care about The Resting-place, you know. It's as 
much as one's life's worth — one's literary life." 
" What's wrong with it ? " 

'' Sentimental. Anita says so. She says she 
doesn't know what happened to her over The 

" I like the title," I said. 

" Yes, so do I. And I love the opening where 

Oh, but you haven't read it. And you're Anita's 
cousin ! What a comedy ! Just like Anita though, 
not to speak of her." 

" Why ? Doesn't Anita like her ? " 
The Baxter girl was flat on the cushions again. 
She looked at me with those furtive eyes that 
always so strangely qualified her garrulity. 
" Are you shrewd ? Or was that chance ? " 

" ' Doesn't Anita like her ? ' " 
"Doesn't she then ? " 

" Ah, now you're asking ! Officially, very much. 
Too much, / should say. And too much is just the 
same as the other thing, I think. Would you like 
Anita for your bosom friend ? " 
Naturally I said — 

" Anita's been very kind to me." Anita's my 

cousin, after all. I didn't like the Baxter girl's tone. 

' Oh, she's been kind to me." The Baxter girl 


i. EG 1: x i) 

eaught nio up quickly. She was like a sensitive 
plant for all her Crudity. ' Oh, I admire Anita. 

She's tin- finest judge of style in England. Jasper 

Flood says so. You mustn't think I say a word 
againsl Anita. Very kind to me she's been." 
Then, innocently, but her eyes were flickering again 

— " She was kind to Madala too, till " 

" Well ? " I demanded. 

" Till Madala was kind to her. Madala's one of 
those big people. She'll never forget what she owes 
Anita — what Anita told her she owed her. After 
she made her own name, she made Anita's. Anita, 
being Anita, doesn't forget that." 

" How d'you mean — made Anita's name? " 
" Well, look at the people who come here — 
the people who count. What do you think the draw 
was? Anita? Oh yes, now. But they came first 
for Madala. Oh, those early days when Eden 
Walls was just out ! Of course Anita had sense 
for ten. She ran Madala for all she was worth." 
" Then you do like Madala Grey? " 
"I?" The Baxter girl looked at me oddly. 
" She read my book. She wrote to me. That 's why 
Anita took me up. She let me come to the Nights. 
She started them, you know. Somebody reads a 
story or a poem, and then it's talk till the milkman 
comes. Good times ! But now Madala's married 
she doesn't come often. Anita carries on like grim 
death, of course. But it's not the same. Last 
month it was dreary." 



" Is it every month ? " 

" Yes. It's tomorrow again. Tomorrow's Sun- 
day, isn't it ? It'll amuse you. You'll come, of 
course, as you're in the house." 

"Will she? Herself?" I found myself repro- 
ducing the Baxter girl's eagerness. 

" Not now." The common voice had deepened 
queerly. " She's very ill." She hesitated. "That's 
why I came today. I thought Anita might have 

heard. Not my business, of course, but " 

She made an awkward, violent gesture with her 
hands. " Oh, a genius oughtn't to marry. It's 
wicked waste. Well, so long ! See you tomorrow 
night ! " 

She left me abruptly. 

I found myself marking time, as it were, all 
through that morrow, as if the evening were of great 
importance. The Baxter girl was always unsettling, 
or it may have been Anita's restlessness that affected 
me. Anita was on edge. She was writing, writing, 
all the morning. She was at her desk when I came 
down. There was a mass of packets and papers 
in front of her and an empty coffee cup. I believe 
she had been writing all night. She had that white 
look round her eyes. But she didn't need any 
typing done. Early in the afternoon she went out 
and at once Great -aunt, in her corner, put down her 
knitting with a little catch of her breath. But she 
didn't talk : she sat watching the door. I had 
been half the day at the window, fascinated by the 


L E C E N D 
I'd never seen a London fog before. I found 

myself writing a letter in my head to Mother aboul 
it, aboul the way it would change from Mark to 

yellow and then clear off to let in daylight and 

sparrow-talk and I lie I ramp-tramp of feel . and I lien 
back again to silence, and the sun like a 1>;i II t bat yon 
could reach up to with your hand and hold. I was 
deep in my description — and then, of a sudden, I 
remembered thai she wasn't there to write to any 
more. It was s () hard to remember always that she 
was dead. I got up quickly and went to Anita's 
shelves for a book. Great-aunt hadn't noticed 
anything. She was still watching the door. 

The little back room that opened on to the stair- 
case was lined to the ceiling with books, all so tidy 
and alphabetical. Anita lived for books, but I 
used to wonder why. She didn't love them. Her 
books never opened friendlily at special places, and 
t hey hadn't the proper smell. I ran my finger along 
the ' G's ' and pulled out Eden Walls. 

I began in the middle of course. One always 
falls into the middle of a real person's life, and a 
book is a person. There's always time to find out 
their beginning afterwards when you've decided to 
be friends. It isn't always worth while. But it 
was with Eden Walls. I liked the voice in which 
the story was beinL r told. Soon I began to feel 
happier. Then I began to feel excited. It said 
things I'd always thought, you know. It was 
extraordinary that it knew how I felt about things. 



There's a bit where the heroine comes to town and 
the streets scare her, because they go on, and on, 
and on, always in straight lines, like a corridor in a 
dream. Now how did she know of that dream ? I 
turned back to the first page and began to read 

When Anita's voice jerked me back to real life 
it was nearly dark. She was speaking to Great-aunt 
as she took off her wraps — 

" The fog's confusing. I had to take a taxi to 
the tube. A trunk call is an endless business." 

" Well ? " said Great -aunt. 

" Nothing fresh." 

"Did he answer?" 

Anita nodded. 

"Was he ? Is she ? Did you ask ? 

What did he tell you, Anita ? " 

Anita stabbed at her hat with her long pins. She 
was flushing. 

" The usual details. He spares you nothing. 
Have you had tea, Mother ? " She rang the bell. 

Great-aunt beat her hand on the arm of her chair 
in a feeble, restless way. W T hen I brought her tea 
she said to me in her confidential whisper — 

" Give it to my daughter. She's tired. She'll 
tell us when she's not so tired." 

She settled herself again to watch ; but she 
watched Anita, not the door. 

And in a few minutes Anita did say, as the Baxter 
girl had said — 



" Shc\ very ill." And then — " I always told you 
we ought to have a telephone. 1 can't be running 
out all t he evening." 

1 Do they come tonight ? " said Great-aunt Serle. 

Anita answered her eoldly — 

M They do. Why not?" 

Great-aunl tittered. 

M Why not? Why not? Listen, little Jenny ! " 

Anita, as usual, was quite patient. 

" Mother, you mustn't excite yourself. Jenny, 
give Mother some more tea. What good would it 
do Madala to upset my arrangements'.'' Besides, 
Kent will have the latest news. I think you may 
trust him." She gave that little laugh that was 
Great-aunt's titter grown musical. Then she turned 
to me. 

" By the way, Jenny, I expect friends tonight. 
You needn't change, as you're in mourning. You'll 
see to the coffee, please. We'll have the door open 
and the coffee in the little room. You might do it 
now while I dress." 

The big drawing-room was divided from the little 
outer room by a curtained door. It was closed in 
the day-time for cosiness' sake, but when it was 
flung back the room was a splendid one. The small 
room held the books and a chair or two, and a 
chesterfield facing the door that opened on to the 
passage and the narrow twisting stairs. They were 
so dark that Anita kept a candle and matches in 
the hall; but one seldom troubled to light it. It 



was quicker to fumble one's way. Anita used to 
long for electric light; but she would not install 
it. Anita had good taste. The house was old, and 
old-fashioned it should stay. 

I fastened back the door and re-arranged the 
furniture, and was sitting down to Eden Walls 
again when Great-aunt beckoned me. 

" Go and dress, my dear ! " 

" But Anita said " I began. 

She held me by the wrist, all nods and smiles and 
hoarse whispers. 

" The pretty dress — to show a pretty throat — 
isn't there a pretty dress somewhere? I know! 
Put it on. Put it on. What a white throat ! 
I've a necklace somewhere — but then Anita would 
know. Mustn't tell Anita ! " 

She pulled me down to her with fumbling, shaky 

" Tell me, Jenny, where' s my daughter? " 

" Upstairs, Auntie." 

"Tell me, Jenny — any news? Any news, 

I didn't know what to say to her. I was afraid 
of hurting her. She was so shaking and pitiful. 

" Is it about Miss Grey, Auntie? " 

" Carey, Jenny — Carey. Mrs. John Carey. Good 
name. Good man. But Anita don't like him. 
Anita won't tell me. You tell me, Jenny ! " 

" Auntie, it's all right. It's all right. She'll tell 
you, of course, when she hears again." And I 



soothed her as will as I could, till sin let me loosen 
her hand from my wrist, and kiss ber, and start her 
at her knitting again, so thai 1 could finish making 
ready the room. But as 1 went to wash my hands 
she called to me once more. 

" Yes, Auntie?" 

" Put it on, Jenny. Don't ask my daughter. Put 
it on.'' 

She was a queer old woman. She made me waul 
to cry sometimes. She was so frightened always, 
and yet so game. 

But I went upstairs after supper and put on the 
frock she liked. Black, of course, but with Moth fa 
lace fichu I liked myself in it too. I did my hair 
high. I don't know why I took so much trouble 
except that I wanted to cheer myself up. It had 
been a depressing day in spite of Eden Walls. I 
looked forward to the stir of vis jrs. And then I 
was curious to see Kent Rehan. 

When I came down the Baxter girl was already 
there, standing all by herself at the lire. She was 
strikingly dressed; but she looked stranded. I 
wondered if Anita had been snubbing her. 

Anita was shaking hands with Mr. Flood and with 
a lady whom 1 had not seen before. She was 
blonde, with greenish-golden hair and round eyes, 
very black eyes that had no lights in them, not even 
when she smiled. She often smiled. She had a 
drawling voice and hardly spoke at all, except to 
Mr. Flood. If he talked to anyone else or walked 



away from her, she would watch him for a minute, 
and then say — ' Jasper ' with a sort of purr, not 
troubling to raise her voice. But he always heard 
and came. She wore a wonderful Chinese shawl, 
white, with gold dragons worked on it, and whenever 
she moved it set the dragons crawling. She was 
powdered and red-lipped like a clown, and I didn't 
really like her, but nevertheless there was something 
about her that was queerly attractive. When she 
smiled at me because I gave her coffee, I felt quite 
elated. But I didn't like her. Mr. Flood called 
her ' Blanche.' I never heard her other name. 

Anita seemed very pleased to see them. I caught 

" Am so glad — one's friends about one— such a 
strain waiting for news. I phoned this afternoon. 
No, the usual phrases. Anxious, of course, but 1 

should certainly have heard if Good of you to 

come ! No chance of the Whitneys, I'm afraid — 
too much fog. And what are you reading to us? " 

The Baxter girl, as I greeted her, stripped and 
re-dressed me with one swift look. 

" My dear, it suits you ! I wish I could look 
Victorian. But I'm vile in black. Have you seen 
Lila? I met her on the step. They've turned down 
Sir Fortinbras in America. Isn't it rotten luck? 
Anita said they would. Anita's always right. 
Any more news of Madala? " 

Anita overheard her. She was suddenly gracious 
to the Baxter girl. 

c 17 

!. EG E X 1) 

" You may be sure I should always let you km»\\ 
at once. And what is this I bear about Lila ? Poor 
Lila I It's the last chapter, I'm afraid. I advised from the beginning thai the American public 
will not tolt rati- — but dear Lila is a law unto her« 
self." And then, as Miss Howe came in — " Lila, 
my dear ! How good of you to venture ! A night 
like this makes me wonder why I continue in 
London. Madala has urged me to move out ever 

since No. No news. But Jasper's been 

energetic " She circled mazily about them 

while I brought the coffee. 

" Kent coming?'' said Mr. Flood, fumbling with 
his papers. 

Anita shrugged her shoulders. 

" Who can account for Kent? It may dawn on 
him that he's due here — and again, it may not. 
It depends as usual, I suppose, on the new 

" Oh yes, there's a new one," recollected the Baxter 
girl carefully. 

" There must be ! He was literally floeculenr 
yesterday." Miss Howe chuckled. " That can 
only mean one of two things. Art or " 

" —the lady ! Who can doubt ? Well, if Carey 
doesn't object to his brotherly love continuing, I'm 
sure I don't. But I wish it need not involve his 
missing his appointments." Mr. Flood eyed his 
typescript impatiently. 

Anita was instantly all tact. 



" Oh, we won't wait. Certainly not. Pull in 
to the fire. Now, Jasper ! " 

But Miss Howe, as she swirled into Anita's special 
chair, her skirts overflowing either arm, abolished 
Mr. Flood and his typescript with a movement of 
her soft dimply hands. 

" Oh, I'm not in the mood even for Jasper's 
efforts. I want to let myself go. I want to damn 
publishers — and husbands ! Damn them ! Damn 
them ! There ! Am I shocking you, Miss Sum- 
mer? ' : She smiled at me over their heads. She 
was always polite to me. I liked her. She was like 
a fat, pink pieony. 

" Well, if you take my advice " began Anita. 

" My darling, I love you, but I don't want your 
advice. I only want one person's advice — ever — 
and she has got married and is doing her duty in that 

state of life Hence I say — Damn husbands ! 

I tell you I want Madala to soothe me, and storm at 
the injustice of publishers for me, and then — no, 
not give me a brilliant idea for the last chapter, 
but make me tell her one, and then applaud 
me for it. You know, Anita ! " She dug at her 

I caught a movement in Great-aunt's corner. 

" Coffee, Auntie ? " 

She gave me a goblin glance. 

" My daughter ! " She had an air of introducing 
her triumphantly. " Listen ! She don't like fat 



We listened. Anita's voice was mellow with 

" Yes indeed. Madala has often said to m<- that 
she thought you well worth encouraging." 

Miss Howe laughed jollily. 

" I admire your articles, Nita. I wilt when you 
review me. But you'll never write novels, darling. 
You've not the ear. Madala may have said that, 
but she didn't say it in that way." 

" She certainly said it." 

" Some day I'll ask her." 

" Some day ! Oh, some day ! " The Baxter girl 
was staring at the fire. " Shall we ever get her 

" In a year ! Let us give her a year ! ' Mr. 
Flood looked up at the lady beside him with a thin 
smile. I couldn't bear him. He sat on the floor, 
and he called you ' dear lady,' and sometimes he 
would take hold of your watch-chain and finger it 
as he talked to you. But he was awfully clever, 
I believe. He wrote reviews and very dillicult 
poetry that didn't rhyme. Anita was generally 
mellifluous to him and she quoted him a good deal. 
She turned to him with just the same smile — 

" Ah, of course ! You've met John Carey too." 

" For my sins, dear lady — for my sins." 

" Not the same sins, surely," breathed the blonde 

"As the virtuous Carey's? Don't be rude to 
me ! It's a fact — the man's a churchwarden. He 



carries a little tin plate on Sundays ! Didn't you 
tell me so, Anita ? No — we give her a year. Don't 
we, Anita? " 

" But what did she marry him for? " wailed the 
Baxter girl. 

They all laughed. 

" Copy, dear lady, copy ! " Mr. Flood was 
enjoying himself. "Why will you have ideals? 
Carey was a new type." 

" But she needn't have married him ! " insisted 
the Baxter girl. The argument was evidently an 
old one. 

" She, if I read her aright, could have dispensed 
with the ceremony, but the churchwarden had his 
views. Obviously ! Can't you imagine him — all 
whiskers and wedding-ring? " 

" But I thought he was clean-shaven ! I thought 
he was good-looking!" I sympathized with the 
Baxter girl's dismay. 

" Ah — I speak in parables " 

"You do hate him, don't you?" said Miss 
Howe with her wide, benevolent smile. ' Now, I 
wonder " 

Mr. Flood flushed into disclaimers, while the 
woman beside him looked at Miss Howe with half- 
closed eyes. 

" I ? How could I ? Our orbits don't touch. 
I approved, I assure you. An invaluable experience 
for our Madala ! A year of wedded love, another 
of wedded boredom, and then — a master-piece, 


I, EG E N I) 
dear people! Madala Grey back to us. a gianfc 

refreshed. Gods ! what a book it will I. 
' I wonder," said Miss Howe vaguely. 

Anita answered her with that queer movemenl <>i 
the head thai always reminded me of a pouncing 

"' No need ! I've watched Madala Greys career 
from the beginning." 

" For this I maintain— " Mr. Flood ignored her — 
'" Eden Walls and Ploughed Fields may be amazing 
(The Resting-place I cut out. It's an indiscretion. 
Madala caught napping) but they're prelimin- 
aries, dear people ! mere preliminaries, believe 

" I sometimes wonder "' Miss Howe made me 

think of Saladin's cushion in The Talisman. She 
always went on so softly and imperviously with her 
own thoughts — " Suppose now, that she's written 
herself out, and knows it? " 

The Baxter girl gave a little gasp of horrified 

L " So the marriage ?" 

" An emergency exit."' 

But Anita pitied them aloud — 

" It shows how little you know Madala, cither 
of you." 

"Does anyone? Do you?" 

Anita smiled securely. 

" The type's clear, at least.'' Mr. Flood looked 
round the circle. His eyes shone. ' Une grande 


amoureuse — that I've always maintained. Carey 
may be the first — but he won't be the last." 

" Is he the first ? How did she come to write The 
Resting-place then? Tell me that ! " Anita thrust 
at him with her forefinger and behind her, in the 
corner, I saw the gesture duplicated. 

" So I will when I've read the new book, dear 

" If ever it writes itself," Miss Howe underlined 

"As to that — I give her a year, as I say. Once 
this business is over — " his voice mellowed into kind- 
liness — " and good luck to her, dear woman " 

" Ah, good luck ! " said Miss Howe and smiled 
at him. 

" Once it's over, I say " 

" But she will be all right, won't she? " said the 
Baxter girl. 

" I should certainly have been told " began 


Miss Howe harangued them — 

"Have you ever known Madala Grey fail yet? 
She'll be all right. She'll pull it off — triumphantly. 
You see ! But as for the book — if it comes " 

" When it comes," corrected Mr. Flood. 

" What's that? " said Anita sharply. 

There was a sound in the passage, a heavy sound 
of feet. It caught at my heart. It was a sound 
that I knew. They had come tramping up the 
stairs like that when they fetched away Mother. 



Thud — stumble -thud ! I shivered. But as the 
steps came nearer they belonged to but one man. 
The door opened and the fog and the man entered 
togethrr. Everyone turned to him with a queer 
long llash of f'aees. 

" Kent ! " cried Anita, welcoming him. Then her 
voice changed. " Kent ! What's wrong? What 
is it?" 

He shut the door behind him and stood, his back 
against it, staring at us, like a man stupified. 

The Baxter girl broke in shrilly — 

" He's wired. He's had a wire ! " She pointed 
at his clenched hand. 

Then he, too, looked down at his own hand. His 
fingers relaxed slowly and a crush of red and grey 
paper slid to the floor. 

" A son," he said dully. 

" Ah ! " A cry from the corner by the fire eased 
the tension. Great-aunt Serle was clapping her 
hands together. Her face was wrinkled all over 

with delight. " The good girl ! The pretty 

And a son too ! A little son ! Oh, the good girl ! ' 

Anita turned on her, her voice like a scourge — 

"Be quiet, Mother!" Then— " Well, Kent? 

" Well? " he repeated after her. 

"Madala? How's Madala f What about Madala 

" Dead ! " he said. 

Dead. The word fell amongst the group of us 



in the circle of lamp-light, like a plummet into a 
pool. Dead. For an instant one could hear the 
blank drop of it. Then we broke up into gestures 
and little cries, into a babel of dismay and concern 
and rather horrible excitement. 

Instinctively I separated myself from them. It 
was neither bad news nor good news to me, but it 
recalled to me certain hours, and they — it was as 
if they enjoyed the importance of bereavement. 
Anita talked. Miss Howe was gulping, and dabbing 
at her eyes. The Baxter girl kept on saying — 
' Dead ? ' ' Dead ? ' under her breath, and with 
that wide nervous smile that you sometimes see on 
people's faces when they are far enough away from 
laughter. Great-aunt had shrunk into her corner. 
I could barely see her. The blonde lady had her 
hand on her heart and was panting a little, as if she 
had been running, and yet, as always, she watched 
Mr. Flood. He had pulled out a note-book and a 
fountain-pen and was shaking at it furiously, while 
his little eyes flickered from one to another — even 
to me. I felt his observance pursue me to the 
very edge of the ring of light, and drop again, 
baulked by the dazzle, as I slipped past him into the 
swinging shadows beyond. It's odd how lamp- 
light cuts a room in two : I could see every corner 
of the light and shadow alike, and even the outer 
room was not too dim for me to move about it 
easily; but to those directly under the lamp I 
knew I had become all but invisible, a blur among 



flic other blurs that were curtains and pictures 
and chairs. They remembered me as little as, 

absorbed and clamorous, thej remembered tin man 

who had brOUghl them their news, and then had 

brushed his way through question and comment i<> 
the deep alcove of the window in the outer room 
and there stood, rigid and withdrawn, staring out 
through the uncurtained pane at the solid nighl 
beyond. I could not see his face, only the outline 
of a big and clumsy body, and a hand that twitched 
and fumbled at the tassel of the blind. 

And all the while Anita, white as paper, was 
talking, talking, talking, saying how great the shock 
was, and how much Miss Grey had been to her — a 
stream of sorrow and self-assertion. It was just 
as if she said — ' Don't forget that this is far worse 
for me than for any of you. Don't forget ' 

Hut the others went on with their own thoughts. 

"Dead? Gone? It's not possible/' Miss Howe 
was all blubbered and deplorable. " What shall we 
do without her? " 

" Yes— that's it!" The Baxter girl edged-in 
her chair to her like a young dog asking for comfort. 

'" For that matter, from the point of view of 
literature," Anita's voice grated, " she died a year 

" It's not possible ! That's what I say — it's not 
possible ! ' It was strange how even the Haxter 
girl ignored Anita. " Dead ! I can't grasp it. 
It's — it's too awful. She was so vivid." 



"Awful?' Mr. Flood was biting his fingers. 
"Awful? Nothing of the kind. You know that 
Holbein cut — no, it's earlier stuff — ' Death and the 
Lady,' crude, preposterous. And that's what it 
is. Old Bones and Madala Grey? That's not 
tragedy, that's farce ! Farce, dear people, farce ! ' : 
Then his high tripping voice broke suddenly. 
"Dead? Why, she wasn't thirty!" 

" She was twenty-six last June," said Anita 
finally. " Midsummer Day. I know." 

" June ! ' He caught it up. " Just so — June ! 

Isn't that characteristic? Isn't that Madala all 

over ? Of course she was born in June. She would 

be. She was June. June 

Her lips and her roses yet maiden, 
A summer of storm in her eyes " 

Miss Howe winced. 

" For God's sake don't Swinburnize, Jasper ! 
She's not your meat. Oh, I want to cry — I want to 
cry ! Dead — at twenty-six " 

" In child-bed," finished Anita bitterly, and her 
voice made it an unclean and shameful end. 

Mr. Flood's glance felt its way over her, hatefully. 
It never lifted to her face. 

" Of course from your point of view, dear 

lady " he began, and smiled as he made his 

little bow of attention. 

I thought him insolent, and so, I believe, did Miss 
Howe. She lifted her head sharply and I thought 
she would have spoken ; but Anita gave her no time. 


There was always a sort of thick-skinned valliance 

aboul Anita. 

" Oh, but you all know my point of view. She 
knew it herself. 1 never concealed it. You know 
how I devoted myself — " 

"A bye-word, a bye-word!" said Miss Howe 
under her breath. 

" — but not so much to her as to her gift. I 
should never allow a personal sentiment to over- 
power me. I haven't the time for it. But she had 
the call, she had the gift, and because she had it I 
say, as I have always said, that for Madala (Jrey, 
marriage " 

" And all it implies " Mr. Flood was still 


She accepted it. 

" Marriage and all that it implies was apostasy. 
I stand for Literature." 

" And Literature," with a glance at the others, 
" is honoured." 

They wearied me. It seemed to me that they 
sparked and fizzled and whirred with the sham life 
of machinery: and like machinery they affected 
me. For at first I could not hear anything but 
them, and then they confused and tired me, and 
last of all they faded into a mere wall-paper of 
sound, and I forgot that they were there, save 
that I wondered now and then, as stray sentences 
shrilled out of the buzz, that they were not yet 
oppressed into silence. 



For there was grief abroad — a grief without 
shape, without sound, without expression — a quality, 
a pulsing essence, a distillation of pure pain. From 
some centre it rayed out, it spread, it settled upon 
the room, imperceptibly, like the fall of dust. It 
reached me. I felt it. It soaked into me. I 
ached with it. 1 could not sit quiet. I was not 
drawn, I was impelled. Dead — the dull bewildered 
voice was still in my ears. That I heard. But it 
was statement, not appeal. It was not his suffering 
that demanded relief, but some responding capacity 
for pain in me that awoke and cried out restlessly 
that such anguish was unlawful, beyond endurance, 
that still it I must, I must ! 

I rose. I looked round me. Then I went very 
softly into the outer room. 

He was still standing at the window. The street 
lamp, level with the sill, was quenched to a yellow 
gloom. It lit up the wet striped branches and dead 
bobbins of the plane-tree beside it, and the sickly 
undersides of its shrivelled last leaves. I never 
thought a tree could look so ghastly. Against that 
unnatural glitter and the luminous thick air the 
man and the half-drawn curtain stood out in solid, 
unfamiliar bulk of black. 

I came and stood just behind him. He was so 
big that I only reached his shoulder. He may have 
heard me : I think he did ; but he did not turn. 
I was not frightened of him. That was so queer, 
because as a rule I can't talk to strangers. I get 



nervous and red, and foolish-tongtied, especially 
with men. Of COUTSe I knew all the usual men. tin- 

doctor at home, and the church people, and husbands 

that came hack by the live-thirty, and now all 
Anita's friends, and Mr. Flood; hut I never had 
anything to say to them or they to me. Hut with 
Kent Rehan, somehow, it was different. He was 
different. I never thought—' This is a strange 
man/ I never thought — 'He doesn't know me: 
it's impertinent to break in upon him : what will 
he think? * I never thought of all that. I never 
thought about myself at all. I was just passion- 
ately desiring to help him and I didn't know how 
to do it. 

I think I stood there for four or five minutes, 
trying to find words, opening my lips, and then 
catching back the phrase before a sound came, 
because it seemed so poor and meaningless. And 
all the while the Baxter girl's words were runninu' 
in my head—' They say he was in love with her.' 

With her with Madala (.rev. She was the key. 
I had the strangest pang of interest in this unknown 
woman. Who was she.' What was she? What 
had she been? What had she done so to centre 
herself in so many, in such alien lives? What had 
she in common for them all ? Books, books, books — 
I'd never heard of her books ! And she was 
married. Yet the loss of her, unpossessed, could 
bring such a look (as he turned restlessly from tin 
window at last) such a look to Kent Rehan's face. 



I was filled with a sort of anger against that dead 
woman, and I envied her. I never saw a man look 
so — as if his very soul had been bruised. It was not, 
it was never, a weak face, and it was not a young 
one ; yet in that instant I saw in it, and clearly, its 
own forgotten childhood, bewildered by its first 
encounter with pain. It was that fleeting look that 
touched me so and gave me courage, so that I found 
myself saying to him, very low and quickly, and 
with a queer authority — 

" It won't always hurt so much. It will get 
easier. I promise you it will. It does. Truly it 
does. In six months — I do know." 

He looked down at me strangely. 

I went on because I had to, but it was difficult. 
It was desperately difficult. I could hear myself 
blundering and stammering, and using hateful 
slangy phrases that I never used as a rule. 

" I had to tell you. It isn't cheek. I know — it 
hurts like fun. It'll be worst out of doors. You 
see them coming, you see them just ahead of you, 
and then it isn't them. But it won't always hurt 
so horribly. I promise you. One manages. One 
gets used to living with it. I know." 

He looked at my black dress. 

"Your husband?" 

" No. Mother." 

He said no more. But he did not go away from 
me. We stood side by side at the window. 

The voices in the other room insisted themselves 



into my mind again, against my will, like t he t ickin<,' 
of a clock in tin- night. I was thinking about him. 

not them. Bui Anita called to me to put coal on 

tin; lire and. once among them, I did not like to go 
back to him again. 

They had re-grouped themselves at the hearth. 
Miss Howe was in the chair with the chintz cover 
that was as pink and white and blue-ribboned 
as she herself. The Baxter girl crouched on the 
pouf ami the fire-light danced over her by iits 
and starts till, what with her violet dress and her 
black boy's head with the green band in it and 
that orange glow upon her, she looked like one 
of the posters in the Tube. The blonde lady had 
pushed back her chair to the edge of the lamp-light, 
so that her face was a blur and her white dress 
yellow-grey. Her knees made a back for Mr. Flood 
sitting cross-legged at her feet, and watching the 
Baxter girl as if he admired her. Once the blonde 
lady put her hand on his shoulder, and he caught it 
and played with the rings on it while he listened to 
her, and yet still watched the Baxter girl. She went 
on whispering, her hand in his, till at last he put 
back his head and caught her eye and laughed. 
Then she leaned back again as if she were satisfied. 
But I thought — ' How I should hate to have that 
dank hair rubbing against my skirt.' Beside Mr. 
Flood lay the MS. he had brought, but I think 
Anita had forgotten it. She, sitting at the table 
in her high-backed chair (she never lolled), was still 



talking, indeed they were all talking about this 
Madala Grey. Anita's voice was as pinched as her 

" Oh, I knew from the first what it would be ! 
She could never do anything by halves. She had 
no moderation. The writing, the work, all that 
made her what she was, tossed aside, for a whim, 
for a madness, for a man. I can't help it — it makes 
me bitter." 

"Do you grudge it her so?" The Baxter girl 
looked at her wonderingly. " I kicked at it too, 
of course. We all did, didn't we? But now, I 
like to think how happy she looked the last time she 
came here. Do you remember? I liked that blue 
frock. And the scarf with the roses — I gave her 
that. Liberty. She was thin though. She always 
worked too hard. Poor Madala ! Heigh-ho, the 
gods are jealous gods." 

Anita stared in front of her. 

" Just gods. She served two masters. She was 
bound to pay." 

" You are hard," said the Baxter girl in a low 

Miss Howe rocked herself. 

" But don't you know how she feels ? I do. 
It's the helplessness " 

Anita's pale eye met and held her glance as if 
she resented that sympathy. Then, as if indeed 
she were suddenly grown weak, she acquiesced. 

' I suppose so. Yes, it's the helplessness. ' If 
d 33 


this didn't happen 1 — 'If thai wreren'1 so' Little 
things, little things — and they govern one. A hroken 
doll — a cowslip ball— stronger than all my strength. 
And she needn't have met Carey. It was just a 
chance. If I'd known — that day ! I used to ask 
her questions, just to make her talk. I remember 
asking her about her old home — more to set her off 
than anything. I said I'd like to see it some day. 
It was true. I was interested. But it was only 
to make her talk. But she — oh, you know how she 
foamed up about a thing. k My old home ! Would 
you, Anita? Would you like to come? Wouldn't 
it bore you, Anita? It's all spoiled, you know. 
But I go down now and then. Nobody remembers 
me. It's like being a ghost. Oh, I feel for ghosts. 
Would you really like to come? Shall we go soon? 
Shall we go today ? ' And then, of course, down 
we go. And then we meet Carey. And then the 
play begins." 

Miss Howe shook her head. 


Anita accepted it. 

" Ends. Then the play ends. " And then, frown- 
ing — " If I'd known that day — if I'd known ! I 
was warned, too. That's strange I've never 
thought of it from that day to this. If I were an 
old wife now " She shivered. 

" What happened ? " said the Baxter girl curiously. 

" Oh well, off we went ! We had a carriage to 
ourselves. I was glad. I thought she might talk." 



" And you always tried to make her talk,' : said 
Miss Howe softly. 

Anita went on without answering her. 

" She grew quite excited as we travelled down, 
talking about her ' youth.' She always spoke as 
if she were a hundred." 

" She put something into that youth of hers, I 
shouldn't wonder," said Miss Howe. 

" She did. The things she told me that day. 
I knew she had been in America, but I never 

dreamed She landed there, if you please, 

without a penny in her pocket, without a friend in 
the world." 

" I never understood why she went to America," 
said Miss Howe. " I asked her once." 

" What did she say ? " said Anita curiously. 

" To make her fortune. But I never got any 
details out of her." 

" Didn't you know? " said Anita. " Her people 
emigrated. The father failed. It happened when 
Madala was eighteen, and she and her mother 
persuaded him, expecting him, literally, to make 
their fortunes. The mother seems to have been an 
erratic person. Irish, I believe. Beautiful. Ex- 
travagant. I have always imagined that it was 
her extravagance — but Madala and the husband 
seem to have adored her. I remember Madala 
saying once that her father had been born unlucky, 
' except when he married Mother ! ' I suspect, 
myself, that that was the beginning of his ill-luck. 



Anyhow, when the crash came, they gathered 

together what they had and started off on some 
romantic notion of the mother's to make their for- 
tune farming. America. Steerage. The Sylvania." 

" Sylvaniaf That's familiar. What was it? 
A collision, wasn't it?" 

" No, that was the Empress of Peru. The Syl- 
vania caught fire in mid-ocean — a ghastly business. 
There were only about fifty survivors. Both her 
people were drowned." 

" Oh, that's what she meant," began Miss Howe, 
" that time at the Academy. We were looking at 
a storm-scape, and she said — ' People don't know. 
It's not like that. They wouldn't try to paint it 
if they knew.' She was quite white. Of course I 

never dreamed Poor old Madala ! Well, what 

happened? " 

" Oh, she reached America in what she stood 
up in. There was a survivors' fund, of course, 
but money melts in a city when you're strange 
to it." 

" Couldn't she have come back to England ? " 

" I believe she had relations over here, but her 
mother had quarrelled with them all in turn. They 
didn't appreciate her mother and that was the 
unforgivable sin for Madala. She'd have starved 
sooner than ask them to help her. I shouldn't 
wonder if she did, too ! — half starve anyway. I 
shouldn't wonder if those first bare months haven't 
revenged themselves at last." 



" Oh, if one had known ! " began the Baxter 
girl. " How is it that no-one ever knows — or 
cares? " 

" You ? You were a schoolgirl. Who had heard 
of her in those days ? But she made friends. There 
was a girl, a journalist, who had been sent to inter- 
view the survivors. She seems to have helped her 
in the beginning. She found her a lodging — oh, 
can't you see how she uses that lodging in Eden 
Walls ? — and gave her occasional hack jobs, typing, 
and now and then proof-reading. Then she got 
some work taken, advertisement work, little articles 
on soaps and scents and face-creams that she used 
to illustrate herself. She was comically proud of 
them. She kept them all." 

" I suppose in her spare time she was already 
working at Eden Walls ? " 

" No. I asked her. And she said— ' Oh no, I 
was too miserable. Oh, Anita, I was miserable.' 
And then she began again telling funny stories about 
her experiences. No, she was back in England before 
she began Eden Walls. However, she seems to have 
made quite a little income at last, even to have 
saved. And then, just when she began to see her 
way before her to a sort of security, then she threw 
it all up and came home." 

Just like Madala ! But why ? " 

Heaven knows ! Home-sick, she said." 

But she hadn't got a home ! " 

It was England — the English country — the 



L E G E N I) 

south country — the Westering Hill country. She 
used to talk about it like — like a lover/' 

" IsnM that more probable? " said Mr. Flood. 


"A lover.' 

" Carey? " 

" Not necessarily Carey." 

Anita looked at him with a certain approval. 

"Ah — so you've thought of that too? Now 
what exactly do you base it on? " 

He shrugged and smiled. 

" Delightfullest — my thoughts arc thistledown." 

" But you have your theory? ' She pinned him 
down. " I see that you too have your theory." 

" Our theory." He bowed. 

" You've got wits, Jasper." 

"What are you two driving at?' Miss Howe 

" We're evolving a theory — a theory of Madala 
Grey. Who lived in the south country, Anita ''. 

" Carey, for that matter." 

" Matters not. She didn't come home for Carey. 
You can't make books without copy. Not her 
sort of book. Any more than you can make bricks 
without straw. But she didn't make her bricks 
from his straw, that I'll swear." 

" No, she didn't come home for Carey," said Anita. 
" I tell you, that was the day she met him. It's 
barely a year ago. She had made her name twice 
over by then. She was already casting about for 



her third plot. I think it was that that made her 
so restless. She'd grown very restless. But she 
certainly didn't come home for Carey." 

"Then why?" 

" Homesick." 

" That's absurd." 

" I'm telling you what she said. She insisted on 
it. She used a queer phrase. She said — ' I longed 
for home till my lips ached.' " 

The lady with Mr. Flood stirred in her shadows. 

" She didn't imagine that. That happens. That 
is how one longs " She broke off. 

"For home?" he said, with that smile of his 
that ended at his mouth and left his eyes like chips 
of quartz. 

She answered him slowly, him only — 

" I suppose, with some women, it could be for 

home. If she says so That is what confounds 

one in her. She knows — she proves that she 
knows, in a phrase like that, things that (when 
one thinks of her personality) she can't know — 
couldn't know. It's inexplicable. ' Till one's lips 
ache ' — Oh, Lord ! " She laughed harshly. 

Anita looked at them uncertainly. 

" Well, that's what she said. And to judge from 
her description Westering was something to be 
homesick for. I expected a paradise." 

" Westering? That's quite a town." 

" Yes, I know. There's a summer colony. 
Madala mourned over it. She was absurd. She 


L E G E N D 

raced me out of the station and up the hill, and 

would scarcely let me look about me till we wire 
:it the top, because the lower end of* the village had 
been built over. It might have been the Back of 

Home to hear her — 'Asphalt paths! Disgraceful! 
The grocer used to have blue blinds. They've 
spoiled the village green.' And so it went on until 
we readied Upper Westering." 
" Oh, where they live now? " 
k Yes. And then she turned to me and beamed — 
This is my country.'' It certainly is a pretty place. 
There's a fine view over the downs; but too hilly 
for me. We climbed up and down lanes and picked 
ridiculous bits of twig and green stuff till I pro- 
tested. Then she took me into the churchyard. 
We wandered about : very pleasant it was : such 
a hot spring day, and pretty pinkish flowers — what 
did she call the stuff? — cuckoo-pint, springing from 
the graves — and daffodils. Then we sat down in 
the shadow of the church to eat our lunch. We 
began to discuss architecture and I was growing 
interested, really beginning to enjoy myself — some 
of it was prc-Xorman — when a man climbed over 
the stile from the field behind the church, and came 
down the path towards us. As he passed, Madala 
looked up and he looked down, and up she jumped 
in a moment. ' Why,* she said, * I do believe — I 
do believe — ' You know that little chuckly rise in 
her voice when she's pleased — ' I do believe it's 
you ! ' ' Oh, Madala,' I said, ' the sandwiches ! ! ' 



They were in a paper on her lap, you know. She 
had scattered them right and left. But I might 
have talked to the wind. I must say he had per- 
fectly respectable manners. He turned back at 
once, and smiled at her, and hesitated, and began 
to pick up the sandwiches, though he evidently 
didn't know her. ' Oh,' she said, ' don't you 
remember? Aren't you Dr. Carey? You mended 
my camel when I was little. I'm Madala ! ' She 
was literally brimming over with pleasure. But, 
you know, such a silly way to put it ! If she had 
said ' Madala Grey ' he would have known in a 
moment. There were a couple of Eden Walls on 
the bookstall as we went through. I saw them. 
However, he remembered her then. He certainly 
seemed pleased to see her, in his awkward way. 
He stood looking down at her, amused and inter- 
ested. People always got so interested in Madala. 
Haven't you noticed it? Even people in trams. 
Though I thought to myself at the time — ' How 
absurd Madala is ! What can they have in com- 
mon? ' Yes, I thought it even then." 
" Well, what had they in common? " 
" Heaven knew ! She was ten and he was twenty- 
five when they last met. He knew her grand- 
people : he had mended her dolls for her : he lived 
in her old home : that, according to her, was all 
that mattered. She said to me afterwards, I 
remember, ' Just imagine seeing him ! I was 
pleased to see him. He belongs in, you know.' 


I, EG EN I) 

' No, Madala,' 1 said, ' I don't know. Such a fuss 
about a man you haven't seen since you w< re a 
child ! I call it affectation. It's a slight on your 
real friends.' ' Oh,' she said, ' but he belongs in.' 
She looked quite chastened. She said — l Nita, it 
wasn't affectation. I believe he was pleased too — 
honestly!' He was. Who wouldn't be? You 
know the effect she used to make." 

" What did he say? " asked the Baxter girl. 

" Oh, he looked down at her as if he were shy. 
Then he said — ' You've a long memory, Madala ! ' 
Yes, he called her Madala from the first. It annoyed 
me. She said — ' Oh, do you remember when 
Mother was so ill once? You were very kind to 
me then.' Then she said something which amazed 
me. I'd known her for two years before she told 
me anything about that Syh ania tragedy, but to 
him she spoke at once. ' They're dead,' she said, 
1 Mother and Father. They're drowned. There 
isn't anyone.' But her voice ! It made me quite 
nervous. I thought she was going to break down. 
He said, with a stiff sort of effort — ' Yes. I heard.' 
That was all. Nothing sympathetic. He just 
stood and looked at her." 

" Well? " said Miss Howe impatiently. 

" Oh — nothing else. I finished picking up the 
sandwiches. She introduced me, but I don't think 
he realized who I was. It annoyed me very much 
that she insisted on his eating lunch with us. As 
I said to her afterwards, it wasn't suitable. Buns 



in a bag ! But there he sat on a damp stone, 
(he gave Madala his overcoat to sit upon) perfectly- 
contented. I confess I wasn't cordial. But he 
noticed nothing. Obtuse ! That was how I summed 
him up from the first — obtuse ! And no conversa- 
tion whatever. Madala did the talking. I believe 
she asked after every cat and dog for twenty miles 
round. And her lack of reticence to a compara- 
tive stranger was amazing. She told him more 
about herself in half an hour than she had told 
me in four years. But she was an unaccountable 

" Yes, that's just it. One never knew what 
Madala would do next, and yet when she'd done it, 
one said — ' Of course ! Just what Madala would 
do ! ' But it wasn't like her to neglect you, Nita ! ' 

" Oh, she noticed after a time. She began to 
be uncomfortable. I — withdrew myself, as it were. 
You know my way. She didn't like that. She 
tried — I will say that for her — she did try to direct 
the conversation towards my subjects. Useless, 
of course. He was, not illiterate — no, you can't 
say illiterate — but curiously unintellectual. Social- 
ism now — somehow we got on to socialism. That 
roused him. I must say, though he expressed him- 
self clumsily, that he had ideas. But so limited. 
He had never heard of Marx. Bernard Shaw was 
barely a name to him. Socialism — his socialism — 
when we disentangled it, was only another word 
for the proper feeding of the local infants — drains — 



measles — the village schools. Beyond thai he was 
mute, Bui chimed in with details of 

American .slum life, ami roused him at once. They 
grew quite eloquent. Hut not one word, if you 
please, of her own work. Anything and every- 
thing but her work. He did ask her what she was 

doing. ' Oh,' said she in an offhand way, ' I 
scribble. Stories.' And then — ' It earns money, 
and it kills time.' Yes, that's exactly how she put 
it. ' Madala ! ' I said, ' that's not the spirit — ' 
I'd never heard her use such a tone before. She 
had sucli high ideals of art. It jarred me. I 
thought that she ought to have known better. Hut 
she looked at me in such a curious way defiant 
almost. She said — ' It's my own spirit, Nita. Oh, 
let me have a holiday ! ' And at that up she 
jumped and left us sitting there, and wandered off 
to the stile and was over it in a second. We sat 
still. The hedge hid her. Then we heard her 
call — ' Cowslips ! Oh, cowslips ! ' I thought he 
would go when she called, but he sat where he 
was, listening. It was one of those hot, still days, 
you know. There was a sort of spell on things. 
There were bees about. We heard a cart roll up 
the road. I wanted to get up and talk, make some 
kind of diversion, and yet I couldn't. Wc heard 
her call again — ' Hundreds of cowslips ! I'm going 
to make a cowslip ball.' Her voice sounded far 
away, but very clear. And there was a scent of 
may in the air, and dust — an intoxicating smell. 



It made me quite sleepy. It was just as if time 
stood still. Three o'clock's a drowsy time, I sup- 
pose. And he never stirred — just sat there stupidly. 
But I was too sleepy to be bored with him. Pre- 
sently back she came. She had picked up her skirt 
and her petticoat showed — it was that lavender 
silk you gave her, Lila. So unsuitable, you know, 
on those dirty roads. And her skirt was full of 
cowslips. She was just a dark figure against the 
sky until she was close to us ; but then, I thought 
that she looked pretty, extremely pretty. Bright 
cheeks, you know, and her eyes so blue " 

" Grey — " said Mr. Flood, " the grey eyes of a 

" They looked blue, and she didn't look like a 
goddess. She looked like a little girl. Well, there 
she stood, with her grey skirt and her lavender silk, 
and her coAvslips — you know they have a sweet 
smell, cowslips, a very sweet smell — and tumbled 
them all down on the tombstone. Then she wanted 
string. Carey seemed to wake up at that. He'd 
been looking at her as if he had dreamed her. He 
produced string. He was that sort of man. Then 
she made her cowslip ball. I held one end of the 
string and he held the other, and she nipped the 
stalks off the flowers and strung them athwart it. 
That is the way to make a cowslip ball." 

" Nita, I love you ! " cried Miss Howe for the 
second time, and the others laughed. 

She stopped. She stiffened. 



" I don't know what you mean." 

" Ne' mind ! Goon!" 

She said offendedly — 

" There's nothing more to tell. We got up and 
came away." 

But as we sat silently by, still waiting, the story- 
teller crept bark into her face. 

" Oh, yes — " up went her forefinger. " It was 
then that it happened. We went stumbling over 
the graves, round to the east end, to see the lepers' 
window, a particularly interesting one. Kuskin 
mentions it. Yes, Carey came with us. There's 
a little bit of bare lawn under the window before 
the stones begin again, and as we crossed it Madala 
gave a kind of shuddering start. He said — ' Cold ? ' 
smiling at her. She shivered ;it_ r ain, in spite of her- 
self as it were, for she"d been joking and laughing, 
and said — ' Someone must be walking over my 
grave.' And at that he gave her such a look, and 
said loudly in a great rough voice — ' Rubbish ! don't 
talk such rubbish ! ' Really, you know, the tone ! 
And I thought to myself then as I've thought many 
times since — ' At heart the man's a bully — that's 
what the man is.' But Madala laughed. We 
didn't stay long after that. The window was a 
disappointment — restored. There was nothing 
further to see and Madala was quite right — it was 
chilly. The sky had clouded over and there was 
a wind. I thought it time to go. Madala made 
no objection. She had grown curiously quiet. She 



tired easily, you know. And he didn't say another 
word. Quite time to go. I thought we might try 
for the earlier train, so we went off at last in a 
hurry. No, he didn't come with us : we shook 
hands at the gate. And when I looked back a 
minute later he had turned away. We caught our 

There was a little pause that Miss Howe ended. 

" Queer ! " she said. 

Anita stared at them. Her hands twitched. 

" Oh, I'm a practical person, but — ' You're 
walking on my grave,' she said. And there or 
thereabouts, I suppose, she'll lie." 

" Coincidence," said Mr. Flood quickly. 

" Of course. I never thought of it again. Nor 
did Madala for that matter, though she was quiet 
enough in the train. There she sat, looking out of 
the window and smiling to herself. But then she 
was always like that after any little excitement, 
very quiet for an hour, re-living it — literally. I 
think, you know," she hesitated, " that that was 
the secret of her genius. Her genius was her 
memory. She liked whate'er she looked on " 

" And her looks were certainly everywhere," said 
the blonde lady in her drawling voice. 

" Just so. But it didn't end there. She remem- 
bered. She remembered uncannily. She was like 
a child picking up pebbles from the beach every 
holiday, and spending all the rest of its year polish- 
ing. She turned them into jewels. The process 


LEG EN 1) 

used to fascinate me professionally, you know. 
You could see her mind ;it work on some trifling 
incident, fidgeting with it, twisting it, dropping it, 
picking it up again, till one wearied. And then a 
year later, or two years, or three years, or ten years 
maybe, you'll pick up a novel or a story, and there 
you'll find it, cut, graved, polished, set in diamonds, 
but — the same pebble, if one has the wit to see." 

"Well, what did she say?" Miss Howe cut 
through the theory impatiently. 

Anita frowned. She disliked being hurried. 

" Oh, that day ? very little. I was surprised. 
She usually enjoyed pouring herself out to me. But 
no, she just sat and smiled. It irritated inc. 'What 
is it, Madala? ' I said at last. She stared at me as 
if she had never seen me before. ' I don't know,' 
she said in her vague way. And then — ' Wasn't it 
a lovely day?' I waited. I knew she would go 
on sooner or later. Presently she said — ' That stone 
we sat on was damp. He was quite right.' Then 
she said, thinking aloud as it were — ' You know, 
if a man has a really pleasant voice, I like it better 
than women's voices. It's so steady.' And then — 
' What did you think of him, Anita? ' " 

Miss Howe chuckled. 

" And you said?" 

" Oh, I said what I oould. I didn't want to hurt 
her feelings. It was so obvious that the place and 
everyone in it was beglamoured for her. I said 
that he seemed a worthy, harmless person, or some- 



thing to that effect. I forget exactly how I phrased 
it — I was tactful, of course. Oh, I remember, I said 
that she ought to put him into a book — that the old 
country doctors were disappearing, like the farmers 
and the parsons. I'm sure I appeared interested. 
But all she said was—' Old ? He : s not old. Would 
you call him old ? ' « That was a figure of speech,' 
I said. ' I was thinking of the type. But all the 
same you can't describe him as young, Madala.' 
' Oh, he's not a boy,' she said. ' No-one ever said 
he was a boy' She didn't say any more. But just 
as we were getting out at Victoria she cried — ' My 
cowslips ! Anita, my cowslips ! I've forgotten my 
cowslip ball.' I told her that it wouldn't have 
lasted anyway, with the stalks nipped off so short. 
But she looked as if she had lost a kingdom." 

" I believe I know that cowslip ball." Miss 
Howe looked amused. " A cowslip ball, anyway. 
She had one sent to her once when I was there. 
I thought it was from her slum children." 

' Yes, he sent it on." My cousin went on quickly 
with her own story. " How he knew the address 
puzzled me. Her publishers wouldn't have given 
it and I know she didn't." 

" Telephone book," said the Baxter girl, as one 

' Ah, possibly. I went round to her that morn- 
ing, and — yes, you were there, Lila," she conceded, 
'for I remember I wondered how Madala could 
compose herself to work with anyone else in the 
e 49 

room. I always left her to herself when she stayed 

with inc." 

" She didn't mind me," said Miss Howe firmly. 

"She always said that she didn't, I know. And 
of course I know that it is possible to withdraw 
oneself as it were, but I confess I disapproved. Hei 
room was a regular clearing-house in those days. 
Oh, not yon particularly, Lila, but " 

" You came in yourself that morning, didn't 
you? " said Miss Howe very softly and sweetly. 

"I was telling you so. And what did I find? 
Her desk littered over with string and paper and 
moss and damp cardboard, and that story Hooper 
published (it had been freshly typed only the day 
before) watering into purple under my eyes, while 
she sat and gloated over those wretched flowers. 
' Madala ! ' I said, ' your manuscript ! Really, 
Madalal " ' 

" And Madala — " Miss Howe began to laugh — 
" Oh, I remember now." 

" What did Madala say? " demanded the Baxter 

"It wasn't like her."' Anita fidgeted. "She 
knew how I disliked the modern manner." 

" But she said," Miss Howe caught it up — 

" I don't know what possessed her," said my 
cousin with a rush. "She actually stamped her 
foot at me. Yes, she did, and then held out her 
wretched posy and said — ' Oh, damn the manu- 
script, Nita ! Smell ! ' " 



" What did Nita do? " enquired the blonde lady 
softly of Miss Howe. 

" Sniffed," Mr. Flood struck in. " Obviously ! 
Satisfied Madala and relieved her own feelings. 
That is called tact." 

" And just then, you know," Miss Howe glanced 
over her shoulder and lowered her voice, " he came 

" Kent ? " The lady with Mr. Flood did not 
lower her voice. I believe she wanted him to hear. 
She was like a curious child poking at a hurt beastie. 
Her smile was infantine as she looked across at 
him. But the man at the window never stirred. 

" Sh ! " Miss Howe frowned at her. And then, 
still whispering — " Yes, don't you remember? he 
had his studio in the same block all that year. He 
always came across to Madala when he wanted a 
sardine tin opened, or change for his gas, or someone 
to sit to him." 

" Someone was saying that he couldn't keep a 
model." Mr. Flood glanced at them in turn. 

Miss Howe flushed surprisingly. 

" It's not that. You ought to know better, 
Jasper. It's only that he's exigeant — never knows 
how the time goes, and — " she lowered her voice 
still more, " and Madala spoilt him. She could sit 
by the hour looking like a Madonna, and getting all 
her own head-work done, and never stirring a hair. 
Of course he doesn't like the shilling an hour type 
after her." 



"I know, 1 know! The explanation is quite 

unnecessary."' He smiled and waved his hand. 

"Then why ?" She was still (lushed and 


" One gets at other people's views. I merely 
wondered how the — er — partnership appeared to 
your — er — intelligence. Now I know." 

" She did spoil him." Anita disregarded them. 
" The time she wasted on him ! In he came, you 
know, that day, and she went to meet him with the 
cowslips still in her hand, and shielding her eyes 
from the sun. That room of hers got all the morning 

"What did she wear— the blue dress?" The 
Baxter girl was like a child being told a story. 

" I forget. Anyway he stood looking her up and 
down till she reddened and began to laugh at him. 
And then he said — ' And cowslips too ! What luck ! 
Come along ! Come along ! ' ' Oh, my good man ! ' 
I said, ' she's in the middle of her writing ! ' But 
it was useless to expostulate. He wanted her and 
so she went. I heard him as he dragged her off. 
1 Madala, I've got such a notion ! ' No, it was the 
great fault of her character, I consider, that she 
could never deny anyone, not even for her work's 
sake. Still, I suppose one had to forgive it in that 
case, for that was the beginning, you know, of 
The Spring Song. She is painted just as she stood 
there that morning, literally gilded over with sun- 
shine, and the flowers in her hands." 



"It's the best thing he's ever done, isn't it?" 
said the Baxter girl. 

" Best thing? It's a master-piece. It's Madala 

" When is he going to show it? " said Mr. Flood. 

Anita shrugged. 

" Heaven knows ! He insists that it isn't finished. 
I believe he sits and prays over it. He Mas annoyed 
that Madala took me there one day. You know 
how touchy he is." 

" He won't show it now," said the blonde lady. 

"Why not? Why not?" Anita hovered, on the 
pounce, like a cat over a bowl of goldfish, and 
like a fish the blonde lady glided out of reach. 

" And she asks ! " she appealed to the others. 

Anita frowned. 

" You're cryptic." 

"Well, wasn't there a certain — rivalry? You 
should have a fellow-feeling." 

" Oh — " she resented quickly, " Kent always 
wanted to keep her to himself, if you mean that." 

The blonde lady smiled. 

" And now he keeps her to himself. I mean just 
that. I go by your account, of course. / haven't 
glimpsed The Spring Song.'''' 

" So that started it." The Baxter girl mused 
aloud. " I think that's romantic now — to make a 
famous picture and to pick up one's husband, all 
in twenty-four hours." 

" ' Pick up ! ' " 



" You kn<>\v what I mean — fall in love." 
■ • Fall in love!'" 

"Nita, don't trample." Miss Howe threw the 
Baxter girl a cigarette. 

" I only mean — it was romantic, meeting like 
that so long ago and nobody knowing a word until 
just before they were married, except you, Miss 
Serle. And I don't believe you guessed?" She 
questioned her with defiant eyebrows. 

"How could I guess what never happened? ' In 
love ! ' I suppose it deceived some good folks." 

" It wasn't so long ago," Miss Howe soothered 
them. She had a funny little way of slipping people 
into another subject if she thought that they 
sounded quarrelsome. ' Let's be comfortable ! ' 
was written all over her. And yet she could scratch. 
I think that a great many women are like Miss Howe. 

" Long ago? Of course not ! " Anita picked it 
up at once. " How long is it ? A year ? Eighteen 
months? April, wasn't it? She wrote The Rest- 
ing-place in the next three months. Scamped. I 
shall always say so. She was three years over 
Ploughed Fields. Yes, April began it. The Rati - 
place was out for the Christmas sales. She married 
him at Easter. And now it's November. The 
year's not gone. But Madala Grey is gone.'' 

" Where? " said the Baxter girl intensely. 

" Don't ! " said Miss Howe. 

But the Baxter girl looked as if she couldn't stop 



" We — we put her into the past tense — d'you 
notice how easily we're doing it already? — but 
— is she less alive to you, less lovable, less Madala 
Grey to you, because of a telegram and a funeral 
service? is she? " 

" No," said Miss Howe. " If you put it like that — 

" Yes," said Mr. Flood. " When you put it like 
that — yes." 

" She must be somewhere," argued the Baxter 
girl. " She can't just stop." 

"Why not?" said Mr. Flood, with his bored 

"She can't. I feel it," she said with her hand 
at her heart and her large eyes on him. 

" I don't," he said to her, and he lost his smile. 
" ' Dust to dust ' " 

The woman behind him moved restlessly. 

" Jasper, dear ! How trite ! " 

"But the spirit?" said the Baxter girl, "the 

Nobody answered. The little blue flames on 
the hearth capered and said ' Chik-chik ! ' Anita 

" The room's getting cold," she said sharply. 
And then — " Jenny, is that door open ? There's 
such a draught." 

I got up and went to see. But the door was 
shut. When I came back they were talking again. 
Anita was answering the Baxter girl. 



" Yes, I stayed there once. A pretty place. The 
sort of place she would choose. All roses. No 

conveniences. And what with the surgery and the 

socialism, the poor seemed to be always with us. 
Only one servant " 

" She ought to have made money," said Miss Howe. 

" Oh, the first two books were a succes d'estime, 
I wept over her contract. She did make a con- 
siderable amount of money on The Resting-place. 
But it was all put by for the child. She told me so. 
He, you know, a poor man's doctor 1 She told me 
that too — (lung it at me. She had an extravagant 
way of talking, manner more than anything, of course, 
but to hear her you would almost think she was 
proud of the life they led. She was always un- 

' I'd like to have gone down there once," said 
Miss Howe. " If I'd known — heigh-ho ! ' 

" I — I wished I hadn't gone," said Anita slowly. 
" It wasn't a success." 

" The husband, I suppose," the Baxter girl 
hinted delicately. 

" No, I hardly saw him. It was Madala herself. 
Changed. Affectionate — she was always that to 

me but 1 remember sitting with her once. We 

had been talking, about Aphra Behn I believe, and 
she had grown Hushed and had begun to stammer 
a little. You know her way? " 

' I know." The Baxter girl leaned forward 



" And she was tracing a parallel between the 
development of the novel and the growth of the 
woman's movement — her old vein. Brilliant, she 
was. And all at once she stopped and began staring 
in front of her. You know that trick she had of 
frowning out her thoughts. I was careful not to 
interrupt. I knew something big was coming. She 
could be — prophetic, sometimes. At last she said 
in a worried sort of way — ' I've a dreadful feeling 
that we're out of coffee and it's early closing.' No, 
I'm not exaggerating — her very words. And then 
some long rigmarole about Carey's appetite, and 
that if she made the coffee black strong she could 
persuade him to take more milk with it. Oh — pitiful ! 
And in a moment she'd dashed off on a three-mile 
walk to the next village where there was a grocer 
that did open on Wednesdays. Oh, it was most 
pathetic. It made me realize the effect that he was 
having on her — stultifying ! I always did dislike 

" Well, I don't know," said Miss Howe. 

" Just so — you don't know. Naturally, you were 
not so intimate with Madala. Well, that very after- 
noon, I remember, he came in at tea-time. That 
was unusual : he was generally late for seven-thirty 
dinner, and then he didn't change. I used to wonder 
how Madala allowed it. Well, as I was telling you, 
he came in, stamping through the hall, calling to 
her, and when he opened the drawing-room door 
and found that she was out, you should have seen 



his look! Sour! No other word! And off he 
wenl at once to meet her, on his bicycle, though I 
was prepared to give him tea. They didn't come 
back for hours. In fact I had gone up to change. 
I saw them from the window, coming up the drive. 
And there was Madala Grey, perched on his bicycle, 
with a great bunch of that white parsley that prows 
in the hedges, and a string bag dangling down, 
while he steadied her, and both of them talking ! 
and as he helped her off, she kissed him — in front of 
the kitchen windows. And, if you please, not a 
word of apology to me. All she said was — why 
hadn't I seen that he had some tea before he went 
after her? I think it's the only time I've ever 
seen Madala annoyed. No, you can't say the mar- 
riage improved her." She paused. " It was so 
unlike her," she meditated, " as if I could help it ! 
You know, I'd always thought her so considerate. 
Carey's influence, of course. Oh," she cried out 
suddenly and angrily, " I've got nothing against 
Carey. I'm not prejudiced. But if he'd been the 
sort of man one could approve — someone — " Her 
eye wandered from Kent Rehan to Mr. Flood — 
" but he was dragging her down " 

Miss Howe shook her head. 

" Anita, you're wrong. I've only met him a 
couple of times hut I liked what I saw of him. 
An honest, straightforward sort of person. Oh, 
not clever, of course. He'd have bored me in 

a week " 



" Ah? " said the woman behind Mr. Flood. 

" Oh yes, dull — distinctly. But I had the im- 
pression that if I'd been one of his patients I should 
have done everything he told me to do." 

Anita shrugged. 

" Oh, I've no doubt he had every virtue, but 
it's idle to pretend that he made any attempt to 
appreciate Madala Grey." 

" You don't suggest that the man didn't love his 
wife, do you ?" said Miss Howe in her downright way. 

" I suggest nothing. But the fact remains — I 
give it for what it is worth— but the fact does 
remain that John Carejr has never read one of her 
books— not one ! " 

"What?" The Baxter girl's mouth opened 
and stayed so. 

" You don't intend to say " began Mr. Flood. 

" I don't believe it," said Miss Howe contemp- 

" Why not ? I've known a man jealous of his 
wife before now. I suppose he knew enough to 
know that she had the brains." The blonde lady 
was smiling. 

Anita shook her head reluctantly. 

" Jealousy ? Hm— it might have been, of course. 
But I didn't get that impression. I believe that 
it was a perfectly genuine lack of interest." 

" Yes, but I don't believe it. How d'you know 
he didn't? It's not a thing he'd own to. Who 
told you?" 




Madala. Madala herself. She used to make a 
joke of it.'' 

44 She never showed when she was hurt," said 
the Baxter girl emotionally. 

" Yes, but it almost seemed as if she were not 
hurt, as if her— her sensitiveness, her better feelings, 
had been blunted. I've known her use it as a 
iccapon almost," said Anita conscientiously recol- 
lecting. " He — that annoyed me so — he was very 
peremptory with her sometimes, most rude in his 
manner. Of course, you know, she zvas dreamy. 
Not that that excused him for a moment. I 
remember a regular scene " 

"Before you?" Miss Howe cast instant doubt 
upon it. 

" My room was next to theirs. I could hear 
them through the wall. I can assure you that he 
stormed at her in a most ungentlcmanly way — " 

" What about? " said the Baxter girl breathlessly. 

" Something about his razors. A parcel had 
come by the early post, and just because she had 
cut the string — but I couldn't follow it all. He was 
a man who was easily irritated by trifles. Well, 
as I say, after he had raged at her for five minutes 
or more, till I could have gone in and spoken to 
him myself, all that that patient woman said, was — 
' Darling, have you begun Eden Walls yet? ' I tell 
you the man never said another word." 

"He didn't prevent her writing, did he?" said 
Miss Howe. 



" There's no doubt that he discouraged her. He 
was selfish. It was his wretched doctoring all day 
long — and you know how sensitive Madala was. I 
did persuade her to do some work while I was 
staying with them, but I soon saw that it was 
labour thrown away. Her heart wasn't in it. 
When it wasn't Carey it was the baby clothes. 
For the sake of her reputation," her voice hardened, 
" it's as well that she has died when she has." 

" Anita ! " 

" I mean it." She was quick and fierce. " Do 
you think it was a little thing for me to see that 
pearl of great price — oh, not Madala Grey ! I grew 
to hate her almost, that new Madala Grey — but the 
gift within her, her great, blazing genius — flung 
away, trampled on— — " 

Miss Howe turned her head in slow denial. 

" No, Anita ! Not genius. Charm, if you like. 
Talent, as much as you please. But Madala Grey 
wasn't a genius, and she knew it." 

Anita flung up her head. 

" She will be when I've done with her. She 
will be when I've written the Life." 

" Ah, the poor child ! ' said Great-aunt start- 

Anita never heeded. She was wrapt away in 
some cold passion of her own, a passion that amazed 
me. I had always thought of her as what she 
looked, an ordered, steely woman, all brain and 
will; yet now of a sudden she revealed herself, a 



creature convulsed, writhing in flames. Hut they 
were cold flames. Cold (ire, is there such a thing? 
In hums. There is phosphorus. There is the tight 
of stars. I know what I mean if only I had the 

words. Star-fire— that's it. She was like a dead 
star. Sin- warmed no-one, she only burned herself up. 

It was the impression of a moment. When I 
looked again it was as if I had been withdrawn 
from a telescope. She was herself once more. The 
volcano had shrunk to a diamond twinkle, to a 
tiny, gesticulating creature with a needle tongue. 
It was bewildering: while I listened to her I was 
still thinking — ' Yes, but which is Anita '! Diamond 
or star? What makes the glitter? Frost or 

But that blonde woman in the shadows went off 
into noiseless laughter that woke the dragons and 
stirred Mr. Flood to an upward glance. Then he 
hunched himself closer against her knees, his chin 
low on his chest, so that his tiny beard and mouth 
and eyes were like triangles standing on their points. 
The pose gave him a glinting air of mockery and 
yet, somehow, you did not feel that he was amused. 
You only felt — ' Oh, he's practised that at a looking- 

He drawled out — 

" The Life, dear lady? Enlighten our darkness." 

" That," came the murmur behind him, " is 
precisely what she is going to do. How dense you 
are, Jasper ! " 



And at the same moment from Miss Howe — 

" Be quiet, you two ! Tell us, Anita ! A life 
of her? Is that it? Ah, well, I always suspected 
your note-book. Did she know you Boswellized? " 

"She?" There was the strangest mixture of 
scorn and admiration in the voice. " As if one could 
let her know ! That was the difficulty with Madala 
Grey : she wouldn't take herself seriously. She 
had — " a pause and a search for the correct word — 
" what I can only call a perverted sense of humour. 
If she'd known that I — noted things, she'd have 
been quite capable of falsifying all her opinions, 
misrepresenting herself completely, just to — throw 
me out, as it were. Not maliciously, I don't mean 
that. But she teases," finished Anita petulantly. 
" She will do it. She laughs at the wrong things. 
Of course she's young still." 

" Yes, she's young — now. She stays young now. 
She gains that at least," said the woman in the 

Anita made a quick little sound, half titter and 
half gasp. 

" Oh ! " she cried — and her voice was as grey as 
her face — " I forgot. Do you know — I forgot ! 
It's going to be ghastly. I believe I shall always 
be forgetting." 

I glanced up at Kent Rehan. It made me realize 
that I had been listening with anxiety, that I was 
afraid of their expressive sentences. They had 
words, those writing people. They knew what they 



thought: they could say what they thought: and 
what they thought could hurt. I didn't want him 
to be hurt. I said, under my breath — 

" Oh, why do you stay here? They aren't your 

But he had heard nothing. He was poring over 
the long tassel of the blind, weaving it into a six- 
strand plait. I couldn't help watching his fingers. 
He had the most beautiful hands that I've ever 
seen on a man. They looked like two alive and 
independent creatures. They looked as if they 
could do anything they chose, whether he were 
there to superintend or not. And he was miles 
away. I was glad. Anita's voice was rising like 
a dreary wind. 

" Just that is so strange. All the time I've known 
her I've thought of her in the past tense. Her 
moods, her ways, her actions, were finished things 
to me — chapters of the Life. I wrote her all the 
time. But now, when she is mine, as it were, now 
that she exists only in my notes and papers and 
remembrance of her, now it comes that I'm shaken. 
I can't think of her as a subject any more. I shall 
be wanting her — herself. I can't think clearly. 
It's frightening me, the work there is ahead of me. 
Because I've got to do it without her. She's lying 
dead down there in Surrey — now — at this minute. 
And there's that man — and a child. One's over- 
whelmed. It's so cruel. The only creature who 
ever cared for me. Think of Madala, quite still, 



not answering, not lighting up when you speak to 
her, staring at the ceiling, staring at her own coffin- 
lid. In two days she'll be under the ground. Do 
you ever think what that means — burial — the 
corruption — the ' ' 

" Stop it, Nita ! " Miss Howe's movement blotted 
out my cousin's face. "Do you hear? I can't 
stand it. Here — drink some coffee. Jasper ! Say 
something ! ' I heard the coffee-cup dance in its 

There came Aunt Serle's anxious quaver — 

"Anita! Nita! What's the matter, my dear? 
What's the matter with my daughter? " 

Nobody answered. She was like a tortoise as 
she poked her head from the hood of her chair. 

" Jenny ! " she called cautiously. " Jenny ! " 

I slipped across the room to her. 

" What's it about, Jenny? Eh? Speak up, my 
dear! Not crying, is she? Temper, that's it. 
Don't say I said so." 

"It's all right, Auntie. She— they— it's the bad 
news. It's upset them all." 

" Bad news ? Fiddlesticks ! Temper, I call it. 
Why shouldn't the girl get married? Not much 
money, but a pleasant fellow. Time for her to 
settle. I said to her — ' My dear, you follow your 
heart.' But Nita tried to stop it. Nita couldn't 
get over it. Cried. Temper. That's it. Look at 
her now. 'Sh ! Don't let her see you." 

But Anita wasn't looking at me and she wasn't 
F 65 

L EG EN 1) 

crying. I suppose Great-aunt must have known 
what she was talking about; but it wasn't easy to 
imagine my cousin soft and red-eyed like that great, 
good-natured Miss Howe. Her little sharp face 
looked as controlled as if it were carved. Yet, as 
she said herself, she was shaken. That showed in 
the jerkiness of her movements, the sharpening of 
her voice, in the break-up of her accustomed How 
of words into staccato, like a river that has come 
to some rocks : and her hands had a clock-work, 
incessant movement, clutch-clutch, fingers on palm, 
that her eyes repeated. They were everywhere at 
once, resting, Hitting, settling again, yet seeing 
nothing, I think, while she listened to Mr. Flood 
and grew more irritated with every word. 

" Why bad news?" said Great-aunt in my ear. 
" It's a son, isn't it?" 

I hesitated. 

" Oh, Auntie, didn't you hear ? " (She had heard, 
you know. I had seen her shrinking back when 
Anita screamed at her, with that dreadful shrink- 
ing that you see in an animal threatened by a head- 
blow. She had been leaning forward, and eager. 
She must have heard.) 

"Hear? They all talk," she quavered. "'Be 
quiet,' says Anita. Ah, I"ve spoilt her. Now 

Madala What's the time, my dear? Why 

don't she come? " 

" Auntie — Auntie " 

" Eh ? " she said. " Why don't Madala come ? " 




Auntie — you've forgotten. She's been ill." 

" Ah — and she'll be worse before she's better," 
said Great-aunt briskly. " 'Sh ! Listen to my 

We listened : at least, I listened. Great-aunt 
cocked her head on one side, still as a bird, for a 
minute; then, like a bird, she was re-assured and 
fell to her knitting again. 

Anita and Mr. Flood were quarrelling. 

" Why shouldn't I ? Tell me that ! Is anyone 
better fitted? Who knows as much about her as 
I do? Didn't I discover her, hacking on two 
pounds a week ? Didn't I recognize what she was ? 
Who sent her to Mitchell and Bent? Who intro- 
duced her everywhere? W T ho bullied her into 
writing Ploughed Fields ? Who was the best friend 
she ever had — even if I didn't make the parade of 

being fond of her that Oh, I've no patience ! 

What would the world know of Madala Grey if it 
weren't for me ? " 

' But — oh, of course we all know how good you 
were to her, Miss Serle, indeed I can guess by 

what you've done for me " began the Baxter 


Mr. Flood's tongue tip showed between his red 
lips. I think he would have made some comment 
but for the hand pressing on his shoulder. 

" But ? " said the woman behind the hand. 

" I only mean — ' genius will out,' won't it ? " 

" Genius ? Big word ! " said Miss Howe. 


41 Not too big." The Baxter girl reddened 


" ' Genius will out? ' Not Madnla Grey's. She 
didn"t know she had any. I don't believe she ever 

fully realized Why, it was the merest chance 

t hat. Eden Walls didn't u r «> into the fire. If it hadn't 
been for me — if it hadn't been for me " 

" Ah — you ! " Miss Howe squared up to her. 
" Now just what (among friends) have you stood 
to gain ? Fond of her ? Oh yes, you were, Anita ! 
Don't tell me ! But in spite of yourself, eh? But 
that wasn't what you were after. You didn't get 
the pleasure out of her that — I did, for instance. 
You used to exhaust Madala. I've seen you do it. 
You — you drained her." 

" Yes, I did. I meant to," said Anita with her 
laugh. " Pleasure ! " 

" And she thought you were fond of her. She used 
to flare if anyone attacked you. Poor Madala ! ' 

"Poor? Why? I shall give it all back." Anita 
gave her a long cool look. " I — I hate debts," said 

Miss Howe flushed brightly. 

" If you were cursed with the artistic tempera- 
ment " She broke off and began again. " If 

I were a poor devil of a Bohemian in a hole, it's 
not to you I'd go " 

" — twice ! " said Anita. 

Again they eyed each other. Miss Howe, still 
Hushing, chose her words. 



" Madala never lent. That wasn't in her. She 
gave. Time, money, love — she gave. You took, 
it was understood, rather than hurt her feelings by 
refusing. But it was always free gift." 

" Not to me." Anita held her head high. " I 
shall pay. And interest too." 

" Oh, the Life ! Are you really going to attempt 
a Life ? " Miss Howe recovered herself with a 
laugh, while Mr. Flood repeated curiously — 

" Yes, but then what were you after, Anita ? 
What do you stand to gain? " 

" Reflected glory," came from behind him. 

She turned as if she had been stung. 

" Reflected? Let her keep it ! Reflected? Am 
I never to have anything of my own ? Oh, wait ! ' 

" You can't get much of yourself into a life of 
Madala Grey though. You've too much sense of 
style for that," Mr. Flood insisted. " We both hate 
a biographer who ' I says, says I.' " 

" Oh, it shall be all Madala Grey. I promise you 
that," she said with her thin smile. 

" Humph ! It's a notion." Miss Howe was really 
interested, I could see — yet with a flush on her 
cheek still. " It's your sort of work too, Anita ! 
You're — happier — in critical work." 

" Oh, don't hedge. Don't be delicate with me. 
I can't create, that's what you mean. Do you 
think that's news to me? Is there a critic who 
has failed to make it clear to me? I can record — 
but I can't create. Good ! I can't create. I 



can't do what she did you do, Jasper 

even Beryl here does. But " she paused an 

instant, "you should be afraid of me for all that. 
I can pry. Little, nasty, mean word, isn"t it? It's 
me! " 

The Baxter girl laughed uncertainly and then 
stopped because Anita's eyes were on her. 

" I've eyes. I — " she opened and shut her tiny 
hands before them — " I've claws. I can pry you 
open, any of you — if I choose. I haven't chosen. 
You've not been worth while. Hut — Madala ! ' 
and here she released the uneasy Baxter girl — 
" Madala' s my chance — my chance — my chance ! 
Madala Grey — look at her — coming into her king- 
dom at twenty — that babe! And me! Look at 
me ! Do you know what my life has been, any of 
you? Oh, you come to my house to meet my 
lionets, and we're very good friends, and you're 
afraid of my reviews, and so I have my position, 
I suppose. But what do you know about me? 
When I was fifteen — and it's thirty years ago — I 
said to myself, ' Now what shall I do with my 
life?' Mother — " she shot her a glance : she didn't 
even trouble to lower her voice, " she'd have drudged 
me and dressed me and married me, I suppose, to 
three hundred a year and the city — oh, with the best 
of motives. I fought. I fought. That's why I'm an 
ungrateful daughter. I'm supposed to be, I think. 
My people were so sorry for my mother. My people 
thought me a fool. I saw through them. Yes, 



and I saw through myself. That's the kind of fool 
I was. Didn't I reckon it out? I hadn't a charm. 
I hadn't a talent. I had my will. That's all I 
had. I taught myself. Work? You don't know 
what work means, you ten and five -talented. 
There's not a book worth reading that I haven't 
read. There's not the style of a master that I 
haven't studied, that I couldn't reproduce at a 
pinch. There's not a man or a woman in London 
today, worth knowing — from my point of view — 
that I haven't contrived to know. The people 
who've arrived — how I've studied them, the ways 
of them, the methods of them. And what's the 
end of it all? That — " she jerked her head to 
the row of her own books on the shelf behind her, 
" and my column in the Matins, and some comfort- 
ing hundreds a year, and — my knowledge of myself. 
Oh, I've turned out good work. I know that. I 
have judgment. That's why I judge myself. I've 
always been rigid with myself. And so I know 
when I look at my books — though I can say that 
they are sounder, better work, in better English, 
that they have more knowledge behind them, than 
the books of a dozen of you people who arrive — 
yet I know that they have failed. People don't 
read me. People don't want me. Why? I have 
my name. I've the name of a well-known critic, 
but — I'm only a name. I'm not alive. The public 
doesn't touch hands with me. Now why? Oh, 
how I've tormented myself. Nearly thirty years 


LEGE N 1) 

I've given, of unremitting labour, to my art, to 
my career. There's not a thought or a wish that 
I haven't sacrificed to it. And then that child of 
twenty comes along, without knowledge, without 
training, without experience, and gets at one leap, 
mark you all, at one leap, more than I've achieved 
in thirty years. Some people, I suppose, would 
submit. Well, I won't. I wouldn't. Docs my 
will go for nothing ? I will have my share. ' Re- 
flected glory,' yes, I've stooped to that. I've 
exploited her, if you like to call it that. When 

I think of the day I discovered her " She 

paused an instant, dragging her hand wearily over 
her eyes—" I was at my zero that day. The 
Famous Women had been out a week. The reviews 
— oh, the reviews ! Respectful, courteous, luke- 
warm. If they'd attacked me, if they'd slated, 
I'd have rejoiced. But they respect me and they're 
bored. They know it's sound work and they're 
bored. I bore people. I bore you — all of you. 
Do you think I'm blind? That night I read the 
manuscript of Eden Walls. (Wasn't it kind of me 
— it wasn't even typed!) And then I saw my 
chance. I saw how far she'd got at twenty, and 
I thought—' I'll take my chance. I'll take this 
genius. I'll make her fond of me. I'll help her. I'll 
worm myself into her. I'll abase myself. I'll toady. 
I'll do anything. But I will find out how she does 
it. I will find out the secret. I'll find it and I'll 
make it my own. I'll serve for her as Jacob served 



for Rachel; but she shall serve nie in the end.' 
I have watched. I have studied. I have puzzled. 
I believe I've grasped it at last. I know myself 
and I know her. If genius is life — the power to 
give life — is it that? then I'm barren. I can't 
make life as Madala can. But — listen to me ! 
Listen to me all of you ! I can take a living thing 
— I can cut it open alive. That's what I shall do 
with this life-maker — this easy genius. I've taken 
her to pieces, flesh and blood, bone and ligament 
and muscle, every secret of her mind and her heart 
and her soul. The life, the real life of Madala Grey, 
the rise and fall of a genius, that's what I'm going 
to make plain. She's been a puzzle to you all, 
with her gifts and her ways and her crazy marriage 
— she's not a mystery to me. I tell you I've got 
her, naked, pinned down, and now I shall make 
her again. Isn't it fair? She ought to thank me. 
' Dead,' he says. Who's to blame ? She chose to 
kill herself. What right had she to take risks ? I — ■ 
I've refrained. She couldn't. She threw away her 
lamp. But I — I take it. I light it again. Finding's 
keeping. It's mine." 

Her voice ripped on the high note like a rag on 
a nail, and she checked, panting. Her hand went 
up to her throat as the fumy air rasped it. 

" Mine ! " she cried again, coughing. There was 
wild-fire in her eyes as she challenged them. 

The little space between her solitariness and their 
grouped attention was filled with fog and silence 


L EG E N I) 

;iih1 lamp-light, woven as it were into a fifth clement. 
It was like a p<><>] t<i he crossed. And across it, in 
answer, a laugh rippled out. 

I don't know who it was that laughed. I did 
not recognize the voice. Souk times, looking back, 
I think it was the laugh of their collective soul. 

" Oh ! " cried Anita, and stopped as if she had 
been awakened suddenly by a blow — as if the little 
wondering, wincing cry had been struck out of her 
by a blow on the face. She stood thus a moment, 
uncertain. Then she too laughed, nervously, 

" One talks," she said, " among friends/' 

Miss Howe made a wry face. 

" Lord, we're a queer set of friends ! How we 
love one another ! " 

" You've all of you been awfully good to me," 
said the Baxter girl. But her gratitude was too 
general to be acceptable. Even I could have told 
her that. 

" Oh, we do our best for you," said Mr. Flood. 

She looked at him from under her lashes. 

" Yes, and she's thinking this minute what a 
nice little scene this would make for her new book 
— touched up, of course," said the woman behind 

" Art — selection — Jimmy Whistler " Mr. 

Flood was one indistinct murmur. 

" With herself her own heroine again, eh? " Miss 
Howe baited her. 



" I didn't. I wasn't." 

" Better folk than you do it, child ! Anita says 
so. Don't they, Anita? " 

" Oh," said Anita heavily, " I wish Madala Grey 
were here. I wish she hadn't died. If she were 
here she wouldn't — you'd never — she wouldn't let 
you laugh at me." 

Miss Howe looked at her intently. There was 
a quick little run of expression across her large 
handsome face, like a hand playing a scale. It 
showed, that easily moved, easily read face, surprise, 
interest, concern, and, in the end, the sentimental 
impulse of your kind fur-clad woman to the beggar 
on the curb. ' Why ! I believe she's cold ! I 
don't like it ! Give her tuppence, quick ! ' She 
was out of her chair, overwhelming Anita, in one 
impetuous heave of drapery. 

" You're right, Nita ! We're pigs ! Something's 
wrong with us. 'Pologize. You know we don't 
mean it." 

Anita endured her right-and-left kisses. 

" You do mean it," was all she said. 

She was shrunk to such a small grey creature 
again. I thought to myself—' Fire ? It's not even 
diamond-sparkle. She's as dull as stone.' 

Miss Howe was eagerly remorseful. 

" We don't. I don't know what's got into us 
tonight. It's the fog. There's something evil about 
a fog. Distorting. It yellows over one's soul." 
It isn't only tonight," said the Baxter girl, 




with her sidelong, ' ean-I-risk-it ? ' look al them. 
11 The fog's been coming on for months." 

" And yon mean ? ' The blonde lady n< I 

snubbed the Baxter girl. It struck me suddenly, 
as their eyes met, that there was the beginning of 
a likeness between them. The Baxter girl at fifty 

— with dyed hair ? But it was only an idea 

of mine. I'm always seeing imaginary likenesses. 
I remember that those Academy pictures of Kent 
Rehan's always set me to work wondering — ' That 
woman with the face turned away — I've seen her 
somewhere — of whom does she remind me ? — where 
have I seen her?' And yet, of course, in those 
days I knew nothing of Madala Grey. 

But the Baxter girl was answering — 

" It — it's cheek, I know, but it's true. When I 
first came—-" then, with a swift propitiatory glance 
at Anita — " when you first let me come — the Nights 
weren't like this. You weren't like this, any of 
you " 

'* Upon — my — word ! " said Miss Howe with her 
benevolent chuckle. " Nita ! Listen to the infant ! " 

" Like what? " Mr. Flood moved uneasily. 

The Baxter girl turned to him enthusiastically. 

" Oh, I used to think you such wonderful 
people " 

" Did you now?" Miss Howe teased her. 

" Let be ! let be ! " said Mr. Flood impatiently. 
" Well, dear lady?" 

" Oh, I did ! I'd read all your stuff. I believe 



I could write out The Orchid House from memory 

His eyes lit up as he challenged her — 

" ' Sour ! ' said the fox at her feet, 
' How can she ripen windy -high ? 
Sour ! ' said the fox with his nose to the sky — " 

He was as pleased as a child with a toy when she 
capped it — 

"Then a grape dropped off. It was rotten sweet. 

There ! " she flushed at him triumphantly. And 

then — " Now did you mean ? Who was in your 

mind ? Were they anyone we know ? I've always 
wanted to ask you." 

But before he could answer her the blonde lady 
leaned forward and whispered in his ear. He 
turned to her with a glance of interest and amuse- 
ment, but with his lips still moving and his mind 
still running on an answer to the Baxter girl. The 
blonde lady whispered again, and then he turned 
right round to answer her, shelving his arms on 
her knees. I couldn't hear what they said, but it 
was just as if she had beckoned him into another 
room. He was withdrawn from the conversation 
and from the Baxter girl for as long as that blonde 
lady chose. 

Miss Howe looked at them with her broad smile. 

" Tell us, Beryl ! We're listening, anyhow ! " she 
said invitingly. 


L EG E xu 

Hut the Haxtcr girls chill went up. The touch 
of annoyance in her voice made it twang, made 
her commonness suddenly noticeable. She was 
bearable when she was in awe of them, but now 
she was asserting herself, and that meant that she 
was inclined to be noisy. 

" Oh, my opinion doesn't count, of course ! 
Hut — " she swung like a pendulum between her 
1 wo manners — " oh, I did enjoy myself at first. 
* It was the way you all talked. You knew everyone. 
You'd read everything. You frothed adventures. 
Like champagne it was, meeting all the people. I 
used to write my head off, the week after. And 
you were all kind to me from the first. I suppose 
it was Madala. She never let one feel out of it. 
Hut I thought it was all of you. 1 had the feeling 
— ' the gods aren't jealous gods.' Hut now it's — " 
she looked at them pertly, " it's fog on Olympus." 
1 You needn't — honour us, you know, Beryl," 
said Anita sharply. 

She answered with her furtive look. 
1 I know. And I don't think — I don't want to 
come as much as I did." 

" In that case " Anita ruffled up. 

" Fog ! Fog ! " cried Miss Howe clapping her 
hands. And then — "All the same, Nita, people 
are dropping off. The Whitneys haven't been for 
weeks. When did Roy Huth come last? And the 
Golding crowd? I marvel that he turns up still." 
She nodded towards Kent Rehan. " Oh, you know, 



we're like a row of beads when the string's been 
pulled out. We lie in a line for a time, but a touch 
will send us rolling in all directions." 

" Yes," said the Baxter girl vehemently, " the 
heart's out of it somehow. I'm not ungrateful. It's 
just because I used to love coming so." 

Miss Howe looked down at Anita, not unkindly. 

" Give it up, Nita ! The Nights have served their 
turn. It sounds ungracious, but things have to end 
sometime or other. Hasn't the time come ? Hasn't 
it come tonight? " 

" But you've been coming all this year just the 
same," said Anita stubbornly. 

Miss Howe shrugged her shoulders. It was the 
Baxter girl who answered— 

" Ah, but there was always just a chance of 
seeing Madala." 

At that Anita, who had been sitting as steely 
stiff as a needle in a pin-cushion, got up, shaking off 
Miss Howe's persuasive, detaining hand and the 
overflow of her skirts. The cushions tumbled after 
her on to the floor. 

" As to that," she said, " and don't imagine that I 
haven't known what you came for, all of you " 


Her voice was sharp enough to have recalled any- 
one and it recalled Mr. Flood. He returned to the 
conversation with the air of dragging the blonde lady 
after him. She had the manner of one hanging 
back and protesting, and laughing still over some 


L E G K N 1) 

secret understanding. "Eh?" said he. " What'l 
that about Madala? " 

Anita looked from one to another. 

" I'm telling you," she said. " I've told you 
already, I can give you Madala Grey. Come here 
and I'll give you Madala Grey still. That's what 
you want, isn't it, to be amused? She amused 

" She did, bless her ! "' said Miss Howe. 

" It was her brains," said the Baxter girl. 

" A beautiful creature," said Mr. Flood slowly. 

" Not she ! " The lady behind him was smiling. 
" She made you think so. She made men think 
so. But how? That intrigued me. Oh, she was 
prettyish : but that was all. I used to watch 
her " 

" Envy?" sai<fhe. 

" No, not envy," said that woman slowly. " She 
was too — innocent — how could one envy? She 
didn't know her own strength. She said — ' Don't 
hurt me,' with a sword at her side."' 

" Excalibur." It came from Mr. Flood. " Magic." 

" No, Madala — just Madala." Miss Howe sighed. 
" It's no good, Anita, you can't give us back 

But my cousin, looking at them, laughed in her 

"Madala? You fools! You've never had her. 
But you shall ! Oh, wait ! My books are dull, 
aren't they? Yet you'll be here, you know, every 



month, thick as bees, to listen to me. A chapter 
a month, that's all I'll give to you. / don't write 
three novels a year. But you'll come, you'll come. 
Proof? There's plenty of proof. See here." 

She went swiftly across to the outer room. There 
was a large carved desk standing on the little table 
by the window. She picked it up. It was too big 
for her. It filled her arms so that she staggered 
under the weight. 

" Oh, Kent! " she called. 

He came back to the foggy room with a visible 

" Here, that's too heavy for you. Let me." He 
took it from her. 

" The table — here. Thank-you, oh, thank-you, 
Kent." She veiled her voice as she spoke to him. 
" It's heavy — it's so full — books — papers " 

He put it down for her and nodded, and was 
straying away again when she stopped him. 

" Kent ! Don't sit by yourself. We — " her voice 
was for him alone — " we're talking about — her. I 
was going to show them — Kent, stay here with 

He waited while she talked to him. And she 
talked very sweetly and kindly. She was the quiet, 
chiffony little creature again with the pretty, pure 
voice. / couldn't make her out. She looked up 
at him and said something too low for me to catch, 
and then — 

There's your chair. Isn't that always your 
G 81 



chair?" And so left him and turned to the tabic 
and tin' box and the others. 

But he did not take the saddle-bag near Anita's 
own scat. He Looked Irresolutely from one to 
another of the group (hat watched Anita fumbling 
with her keys. He Looked, and his face softened, 
at Great-aunt, muttering over her needles. He 
looked at the empty chair beside inc. He looked 
at me and found me watching him. Then, as I 
smiled at him just a little, he came to me and sat 
down. Hut he said nothing to me, and so I was 
quiet too. 

But Anita was busy, hands and eyes and tongue 
all busy. 

" When she married, you know, in that hole and 

corner fashion " Then, as if in answer, though 

nobody had spoken—" Well, what else was it, when 
nobody knew? when even I didn't know " 

There was a movement in the chair beside me, 
and turning, I caught the ending of a glance towards 
my cousin. A new look, I found it, on that passive 
face, a roused and wondering and scornful look 
that transformed it. But, even as I caught it, it 
faded again to that other look of bleak indifference, 
a look to know and dread on any creature's face, 
a look that must not stay on any fellow-creatures 
face. I knew that well enough. So I said the first 
words that came, in my lowest voice, lest they 
should hear. 

But they were talking. They did not hear. 



" I'm sure that Great-aunt knew." Indeed I 
thought so. I think that Great-aunt would always 
be kind and guessing with a girl. Then I wondered 
at myself for daring it and thought nervously — 
' He'll snub me. He'll be right to snub me ' 

But he looked across at Great-aunt kindly and 
said, in just such a withdrawn voice as mine — 

" Yes, of course, if ever there was a time when " 

Then he half smiled. " Poor old lady ! But she's 
changed. She used to be so brisk and managing, 
more like fifty than seventy. But this year's aged 
her. She wanted, you know, to give some pearls — 
her own pearls. But pearls spell sorrow. And Anita 
would have objected. She told me all about it." 

" She was speaking of them tonight." We both 
turned again and looked at her. She had dropped 
her knitting, or it had slipped from her knee, and 
she sat in her chair staring down at it with a terrible, 
comical air of helplessness. Then she caught his 
eye and forgot the knitting and nodded at him. 

" I think — " I said, " I don't think she under- 
stands. She asked me — she forgets I'm a stranger. 

She asked me " I broke off. I couldn't say 

to him — ' She asked me about Miss Grey and she 
doesn't realize that she's dead.' One's afraid of 
the brutality of words. But he understood. There 
was a simplicity about him that re-assured one. 
And he never said — ' It's Anita's business. It's not 
your business,' as anyone else might have done. 
He just said, once again — 



" Poor old lady ! " and hesitated a minute. Then 
he got up and went across to her and picked up 
her wools. I don't think the others noticed 
him go. Anita didn't. She was talking too 

" — left a trunk-full of papers and so on. I'd 
often stored boxes for her. Somehow it never got 
sent down. I came across it only yesterday. I 
thought to myself that there was no harm in putting 
things straight. You know I'm literary executor? 
Oh yes. She said to me soon after her marriage, 
half in joke, that she supposed she had got to 
make a will — and what about her MSS. ? ' I can't 
have him worried.' I offered at once. You see I 
know so exactly her attitude in literature. There's 
a good deal of unpublished stuff — early stuff. But 
all in hopeless confusion. Tumbled up with bills 
and programmes and one or two drafts of letters — 
or so I imagine. She had that annoying habit — 
that ugly modern habit — of beginning without any 
invocation, and never a date. But there's one 
letter — there's the draft of a letter that's important 
from my point of view." She broke off with a 
half laugh. " It sounds a ridiculous statement to 
make about Madala Grey of all people, but do you 
know that she couldn't express herself at all easily 
on paper? " 

Miss Howe nodded. 

" Do I know? I've known her re-write a letter 
half a dozen times before she got it to her liking — 



no, not business letters, letters to her intimates. 
A most comical trick. Scribble, scribble, scribble — 
slash ! and then crunch goes the sheet into a ball, 
into the grate, or near it, till it looked as if she 
were playing snow-balls, and then Madala begins 
again — and again — and again. Yet she talked well. 
She talked easily." 

"Isn't that in keeping?" Mr. Flood struck in. 
" She didn't express so much herself in her speech 
as the mood of the moment." 

" As the mood of the companion of the moment 
more likely," the blonde lady corrected. 

He nodded agreement. 

" But for herself — go to her books." 

" Or her letters — her careful, conscientious letters. 
But she was careless about her drafts," said Anita 

Mr. Flood looked at her curiously. 

" What's up that sleeve of yours, Anita? " 

She was quick. 

" You shall read it, in its place. But the trouble 

is " She hesitated. She gave the little nervous 

cough that always ushered in her public lectures. 
" We've all written books," she said, " all except 
you, Blanche " 

The blonde lady blinked her sleepy eyes. 

" You're all so strenuous," she purred. " I love 
to watch you being strenuous. So soothing." 

' Well, I was going to say, it's easy enough to 
end a book, but have you ever got to the beginning ? 


L EG EN 1) 

I never have. One steps backward, and backward 


" I know," cried the Baxter girl. " Till you get 
tired of it at last and begin writing Erom where you 

are, but you never really get your foot on the 
starting-point, on the spring-board, as you might 

" That's it. Yes, Jasper, I've got material up 
my sleeve, but frankly, I don't know how to place 
it. I don't know where to begin. The facts of 
her life, her conversation, her literary work, her 
letters — I go on adding to my material till I am 
overwhelmed with all that I have got to say about 
her. But I don't want to begin with facts. Facts 
are well enough, but think how one can twist them ! 
I want the woman behind the facts. I want the 
answer to the question that is the cause of a 
biography such as mine is to be — the question — 
' What was Madala Grey?' Not who, mark you, 
but further back, deeper into herself — ' What was 
Madala Grey? ' " 

" Why, a genius," said the Baxter girl glibly. 

Anita neither assented nor dissented. 

" Ah — " she said frowning, " but that's not 
the beginning cither. At once we take our st< p 
backward again — 'What is genius?'" 

"Isn't talent good enough?' said Mr. Flood 

"But does one mean talent?' She was still 
frowning. " Everyone's got talent. I'm sick of 



talent. But she — she mayn't be a great one — how 
she'd have laughed at being called a great one ! — 
but she makes her dolls live. And isn't that the 
blood-link between the greatest gods and the littlest 
gods ? Life-givers ? Life-makers ? Oh, I only speak 
for myself; but she made her book- world real to me, 
therefore for me she had genius. Whether or not 1 
convince you is the test of whether my life-work, 
my Life of her — fails or succeeds." 

" I suppose you wouldn't trust it to Madala? " 
said Miss Howe softly. 

"Trust what?" 

" To convince us." 

She answered, suspicious rather than compre- 
hending, for indeed Miss Howe's tone was very 
smooth — 

" What do you mean? i'm writing her life." 

Miss Howe was inscrutable. 

" Of course you are. Fire ahead. Genius, wasn't 

Anita shrugged her shoulders. 

" What's in a name? It's the quality itself that 
fascinates me. I want to account for it. I want 
to trace it to its source. Worth doing, isn't it? 
But do you realize the difficulties? Sometimes I 
feel hopeless. I've known her five years, and her 
books I know by heart, and I'm only just beginning 
to decide whether to call her a romantic or a realist." 

" A realist. Look at Eden Walls,'" said the Baxter 


L E G E N D 
• A romantic. Look at The Resting-place," said 

Miss Howe. 

Mr. Flood ovcr-rodc them. 

" Dear ladies, you confuse the terms. It amazes 
me how people always confuse the terms. Your 
so-called realist, your writer who depicts what we 
call reality, the outward life, that is, of flesh and 
dirt and misery — don't you see that he is in truth 
a romantic — a man (or woman) who lives in a fair 
world of his own, a paradise of the imagination? 
Out of that secure world of his he peers curiously 
at ours, and writes of it as we dare not write, writes 
down every sordid, garish, tragi-comic detail. Your 
so-called realist can afford the humour of Rabelais, 
the horror of Dostoievsky, the eheerful flesh and 
blood of Fielding. Why shouldn't he be truthful? 
It's not his world. Don't you see? But your 
so-called romantic, he lives in this real world. He 
knows it so well that he has to shut his eyes or 
he would die of its reality. So he escapes into the 
world of romance, the world of beauty within his 
own mind — nowhere but in his own mind. Who 
is our dreamer of dreams? Shelley, the realist! 
Blake jogged elbows with poverty and squalor nil 
his life, and he was the prophet and the king of 
all spirits. Don't you sec? And Goethe — the 
biographers will tell you that Goethe began as a 
realist and ended as a romantic. I say it was the 
other way round. What did he know of reality 
in the twenties? Its discovery was the romantic 



adventure of his young genius. But when he was 
old and worldly and wise — then he wrote his 
romances, to escape from his own knowledge. Oh, 
I tell you, you should turn the words round. Now 
take Shakespeare " 

" It's not fair to take Shakespeare," said Miss 
Howe. " It's the Elephant and the Crawfishes 
over again. Let's keep to the crawfishes ! Let's 
keep to our own generation ! " 

" Well, if I were Anita I should begin by showing 
Madala as a romantic — as the young romantic pro- 
ducing the most startlingly realistic book we've had 
for a decade. Indeed to me, you know, her develop- 
ment is marked by her books in the sharpest way. 
It's the young, the curious, the observant Madala 
in Eden Walls. The whole book is a shout of dis- 
covery, of young, horrified discovery, of the ugliness 
of life. It's as if she said — ' Listen ! Listen ! 
These things actually happen to some people. Isn't 
it awful ? ' She dw T ells on it. She insists on every 
detail. She can't get aw r ay from it. And yet she 
can hardly believe it, that young Madala. But in 
Ploughed Fields already the tone's changing. It's 
a pleasanter book, a more sophisticated book. It 
interests profoundly, but it's careful not to upset 
one — an advance, of course. Yet I, you know, hear 
our Madala' s voice in it still, an uneasy voice — 
' Hush ! Hush ! These things happen to most 
people. Pretend not to notice.' And in the last 
book, in the pretty, impossible romance, there you 



have voiir realist full-fledged— ' Shut your eyes I 
Come away quickly ! These things arc happening 

to me!* He Kant hack again folding his arms 
and dropping his chin. And then, because Miss 
Howe was looking at him as if she were amused — 
>c I tell you I know. I recognize the symptoms. 

I'm a realist myself. That's why I write romantic 
poetry. Have to. It's that or drugs. How else 
shall one get through life?" 

"Jasper!" said the blonde lady. Rut for once 
he didn't turn to her. He shrugged his shoulders. 

" Don't worry. Who'll believe me? " 

The Baxter girl was breathless. 

"Oh, but I do. It's a new Madala, of course. 
But I believe it explains her." 

" But the facts of her life don't agree," began 
Miss Howe. 

"Ah, Anita's got to make 'em," said Mr. Flood 
languidly. " Isn't that the art of biography ? ' 

But Anita was deadly serious. 

" You don't begin far enough back. My spring- 
board is not — what is Madala ? but — what is genius ? 
How does it happen? Is it immaculate birth? or 
is it begotten of accident upon environment ? That. 
is to say — is it inspiration or is it experience? I 
speak of the divine fire, you understand, not of 
the capacity for resolving it into words or paint 
or stone. That's craft, a very different thing. Von 
say that Madala was not a genius in the big sense — 
yes, I'll admit that even, for the argument's sake — 



but even you will concede her the beginnings of it. 
So my difficulty is just the same. I've never 
believed in instinctive genius. Yet how can she, 
at twenty, have had the experience (that she had 
the craft is amazing enough) to cope with Eden 
Walls? Romantic curiosity isn't enough explana- 
tion, Jasper ! Look at her certainty of touch. 
Look at her detail. Look how she gets inside that 
woman's mind. That's the fascination of it. It's 
such a document. Now how does she know it? 
That's what intrigues me. Madala and a street 
woman ! Where's the connection ? How does 
she get inside her? Because she does get inside 

" Oh, it's real enough," said the blonde lady. 

" It must be. You should have seen the letters 
she received ! Amazing, some of them." 

" Anita, they amazed her. I remember her getting 
one while she was staying with us. She looked 
thoroughly frightened. She said — ' But Lila, I 
didn't realize — it was just a story. But this poor 
thing, she says it's true ! She says it's happened 
to her ! What are we to do ? ' You know, she 
was nearly crying. It was some hysterical woman 
who had read the book. But Madala always be- 
lieved in people. I know she wrote to her. I 
believe she helped her. But she never told you 
much about her doings." 

" Oh, her sentimental side doesn't interest me. 
What I ask myself is — how does she know, as she 



obviously docs know. ;ill that hei wretched drab 
of a heroine thought and fell and Buffered?' 1 

" Instinct ! Imagination ! " said the Baxter girl. 
" It must be the explanation." 

" It isn't. It isn't. Oh, I've puzzled it out. 
I'm convinced thai from the beginning it's experi- 
ence. Don't ilare, Lila, I don't mean literal 
experience. Not in Eden Walls, anyhow. Later, 
of course — but we're discussing Eden Wails. Imagi- 
nation, do you say, Beryl ? But the imagination 
must have a fact for its root. I'll grant you that 
imagination is so essentially a quality of youth that 
the merest rootlet of a reality is enough to set a 
young artist beanstalk climbing. But the older he 
grows, the wiser, the more versed in reality, the 
less he trusts his imagination, the more, in conse- 
quence, his imagination flags and withers; till he 
ends— one sees it happen again and again — as the 
recorder merely of his own actual experiences and 
emotions. It's only the greatest who escape that 
decay of the imagination. Do you think that 
Madala did? Look at Eden Walls. Remember 
what we know about her. Can't you see that the 
skeleton of Eden Walls is Madala's own life? Con- 
sider her history. She leaves what seems to have 
been a happy childhood behind her and sets out 
on adventure — very young. So does the woman 
in Eden Walls. The parallel's exact. Madala's 
Westering Hill and the Breckonridge of the no\ < 1 
are the same place. The house, the lane, the 



country-side, she doesn't trouble to disguise them. 
Again — Madala's adventure is ushered in by 
calamity : and tragedy — (you can see the artist 
transmuting the mere physical calamity into 
tragedy) tragedy happens to the woman in Eden 
Walls. Remember how much more Madala dwelt 
on the sense of loneliness and lovelessness, on the 
anguish of the loss of something to love her, than 
on what one might call the — er — official emotions 
of a betrayed woman. Didn't it strike you? 
Doesn't that show that she was depending on her 
experience rather than on her imagination, fitting 
her own private grief to an imaginary case ? Then, 
in America, she has the struggle for meat and drink, 
for mere existence. So does the woman in Eden 
Walls. Madala does not go under. The woman 
in Eden Walls does. It's the first real difference. 
But I maintain that in reality the parallel still 
continues, that, in imagination, Madala did go 
under over and over again : that she had ever in 
front of her the ' suppose, suppose,' that, in drawing 
the woman in Eden Walls, she is saying to herself — 
' Here, but for the grace of God, go I.' And then, 
you know, when you think of her, hating that big 
city, saving up her pennies, and coming home at 
last in a passion of homesickness (if it was home- 
sickness — sickness anyhow), can't you see how it 
makes her write of that other woman? It's the 
gift, the genius, stirring in her : born, not immacu- 
lately, but of her own literal experience. Jasper's 



right— you can always make facts fit if you think 
them out : and because I possess that underlying 
shadow-work (1 admit it's no more) of fact to guide 
me in deciphering her method in the first book, 
therefore, in the second book and the third book, 
I find it safe to deduce fads to cover the stories, 
even when I don't possess them. I consider that 

I'm justified, that Eden Wall* justifies me. Don't 

"It's plausible,'' said Mr. Flood thoughtfully. 

" Oh, it's convincing," said the Baxter girl 
reverently. " I feel I've never known Madala Grey 
before. What it will be when you get it into shape, 
.Miss Serle " 

""In fact," said Miss Howe, "there's only one 
drawback " 

" And that? " said Anita swiftly. 

" Only Madala's own account." 

" She never discussed her methods," said Anita 

" Just so ! You're not the only person who's — 
pumped. 1 remember seeing her once surrounded, 
in her lion days. I remember her ingenuous ex- 
planations. She did her best to oblige them — 
'Honestly, I don't know. One just sits down and 
imagines.' And then — 'That's quite easy. But 
it's awfully difficult writing it down." That's the 
explanation, Nita. A deliberate, even unconscious 
self-exploitation is all nonsense. Madala's not clever 



" Not clever enough ! " 

" No. You're much cleverer than she was. You 
have twice her brains. You can't think, Anita, 
what brains you've got. You've got far too many 
to understand a simple person. I don't agree, you 
know, with ' genius.' I can't throw a word like 
that about so lightly. But as far as it went with 
Madala, it was the same sort of genius that makes 
a crocus push in the spring. Your theory — oh, it's 
plausible, as Jasper says, but don't you see that 
it destroys all the charm of her work? It's the 
innocence of her knowledge, the simplicity of her 
attitude to her own insight that to me is moving. 
She touches pitch, yet her fingers are clean. It's 
her view of her story that arrests one, not her 
story, not her facts, not her mere plot." 

" No, the plot is conventional, I'll grant you that. 
She was always content with old bottles." 

" Yes, and when the new wine burst them and 
made a mess on the carpet, Madala was always so 
surprised and indignant." 

Mr. Flood giggled. 

" Pained is the word, dear lady — surprised and 
pained. Do you remember when Eden Walls was 

" I don't suppose she talked to 3^011 about it, 
Jasper," said Miss Howe sharply. 

"I? I was never of her counsels. But I got 
my amusement out of the affair. Dear, delightful 
woman ! She behaved like a schoolgirl sent to 



Coventry. 1 remember congratulating her on the 

advertise incut, and she would hardly speak to me. 
But it suited her. the blush."" 

" Wasn't it an advertisement ! " said the Baxter 
girl longingl} . 

" If one could have got her to see it," said Anita. 
1 But no, she insisted on being ashamed of herself. 
She said to me once that the critics had ' read in ' 
things that she had never dreamed of — that it made 
her doubt her own motives — that she felt dirtied and 
miserable. And yet she wouldn't alter one of those 
scenes. Obstinate ! She could be very obstinate." 

" Oh, which scenes? " The Baxter girl stuck her 
elbows on the table and her chin in her fists. Her 
eyes sparkled. "Oh, then, Miss Serle, did you — ? 
did she come to you in the early days? Did you 
help her too?" 

" My daughter — very kind to young people ! ' 

It was a mere mutter, but I the swing 
of the phrase. Anita didn't. She was busy with 
the Baxter girl. 

" I don't say that there would be no Madala 
Grey today if I " 

"But " said Mr. Flood. 

"But — " said Miss Howe, "she's Anita's dis- 
covery. We're never to forget that, are we, 
darling? " 

"Oh, I knew that," said the Baxter girl, trying 
to be tactful. " But Eden Wall* was written before 
you knew her, wasn't it ? I understood — I didn't 



know, I mean," she explained to them, "that Miss 
Serle had — blue-pencilled " 

" I did and I didn't." Anita laughed, as if in 
spite of herself. " I confess I thought at the time 
that it needed revision. Mind you, I never ques- 
tioned the quality, but I knew what the public 
would stand and what it wouldn't. Of course, I 
didn't want the essentials altered. But there were 

certain cuts However, nothing would move 


" That's funny. She never gave me the impres- 
sion that she believed in herself so strongly." 

" Oh, her pose was diffidence," said the blonde 

" But she didn't believe in herself. It was 
obvious. When I went through her MS. and blue- 
pencilled, she was most grateful. She agreed to 
everything and took the MS. away to remodel." 

"And then?" 

" I heard nothing more of her — for weeks. Finally 
I wrote and asked her to come and see me. She 
came. She was delightful. I had told her, you 
know, about the Anthology the first time I met 
her. I remember that I was annoyed with myself 
afterwards. I'm not often indiscreet. But she 
had a — a knack — a way with her. I hardly know 
how to describe it." 

" One told her things," said the Baxter girl. 

" Just so. One told her things. And she had 
brought me a mass of material — some charming 
h 97 


American verso (you remember? in the last section 
but one) thai I had never come across. She had 

l>< . u reading for me at the British Museum in hex 
spare time. I COnfeSS I Was touched. We talked, 

I remember " She sighed reminiseently. " It 

was not until she made a move to go that I recol- 
lected myself. ' Well,' I said, ' and how about 
Eden Walls f She fidgeted. She looked thoroughly 
guilty. At last it came out. She hadn't altered a 
line. She had tried her utmost. She had drafted 
and re-drafted. She had finally given it up in 
despair and just got work in some obscure news- 
paper office — ' a most absorbing office ! ' But 
there — you know Madala when she's interested — 
was interested " 

" Don't," said Miss Howe softly. 

lint Anita went on — 

"'Well but—' I said to her— 'that's all very 
well. But you're not going to abandon Eden 
Walls, are you ? ' Then it all came out. Yes, 
she was. She knew I was right. She wasn't 
conceited. She quite saw that the book was use- 
less. It just meant that she couldn't write novels 
and that she mustn't waste any more time. ' But 
my dear Miss Grey,' I said, ' you mean to say that 
you'd rather leave the book unpublished than alter 
a couple of chapters, remodel a couple of char- 
acters?' 'But I can't,' she said, 'I can't. They 
happened that way.' ' Then make them happen 
differently,' I said. But no, she couldn't. ' Oh 



well,' I said at last — ' if you're so absolutely sure 
of yourself, if you're prepared to set up your judg- 
ment ' That distressed her. I can hear her 

now. ' But I don't set up my judgment. I'll 
burn the wretched stuff to-morrow if you say it's 
trash. I knew it would be, in my heart. But — 
I can't alter it, because — because it happened that 
way.' Then I had an idea. 'To you?' I said. 
She looked at me. She laughed. She said — ' Miss 
Serle, you've written ten books to my one. Don't 
pretend you don't know how a story happens.' " 
Anita nodded at us. "You see? Evasive. I 
think it was from that moment that I began to 
have my theory of her." 

"Well — and what next?" demanded Miss 

" She would have said good-bye if I had let her. 
I stopped her. ' Reconsider it,' I said. She beamed 
at me, chastened but quite cheerful. ' Oh, I'll 
try another some day,' she said. ' I suppose I'm 
not old enough. I was a fool to think I could.' 
At that, of course, I gave in. I wasn't going to 
lose sight of Eden Walls. I told her to bring it as 
it was and I'd see what I could do. As you know, 
Mitchell and Bent jumped at it." 

" But it was banned," said the Baxter girl. 

" Yes, but everybody read it. You can get it 
anywhere now. And I can say now — ' Thank the 
gods she didn't touch it.' " 

"Then she was right?" 



"Of course she was right. I knew il all the 

••And she didn't?" 

" Of course she didn't. Mine was critical know- 
ledge. Hers the mere instinct of — whatever you 
i-hoose to call it. I was afraid of the critics. She 
didn't know enough to be afraid." 

" There's something big about you, Anita ! " said 
Miss Howe suddenly. 

Mr. Flood gave the oblique ilicker of eyes and 
mouth that was his smile. 

" Yes," he said slowly. " it fits her quite well." 

" What? " said Anita sharply. 

" The mantle, dear lady." 

She shrugged her shoulders. 

" Ah — Gentle dullness ever loves a joke. What, 

" I don't see," the Baxter girl had harked back, 
" how you can call a book that has been banned 

" Only the plot " 

"Ah, that plot!' Nobody could snub Mr. 
Flood. " Think, dear lady ! Village maiden — faith- 
less lover — lights o' London — unfortunate female — 
what more do you want? " 

"Of course." Anita resumed the reins. "It's 
as old as The Vicar of Wakefield." 

" Oh, that! " The Baxter girl looked interested. 
" Do you know, I've never seen it. One of 
Irving's shows, wasn't it?" 



I laughed. I couldn't help it. But they were 
all quite solemn, even Anita. But then she never 
did listen to the Baxter girl. She had talked 
straight through her sentences. 

" But it's not the material. It's the way it's 
handled. It's never been done quite so thoroughly, 
from the woman's point of view — so unadornedly. 
People are afraid of their ' poor gwls.' There's a 
formula that even the Immortals follow. They are 
all young and beautiful, and they all die. They 
must. They wouldn't be tragic in continuation. 
But Madala's woman doesn't. That's the point. 
There's no pretence at making her a heroine. 
She's just the ordinary stupidish sheep of a creature, 
' gone wrong.' There's no romantic halo, no love- 
glamour, no pity and terror, just the chronicle of 
a sordid life. And yet you can't put the book down. 
At least I couldn't put it down. 

" Do you like it? " I said to Kent Rehan, as he 
paused beside me in his eternal pacing from room 
to room. 

He looked at me oddly. 

" I respect it," he said. " I don't like it. People 
misjudged " 

" If it had been the recognized love stor)' " — 
Mr. Flood's high voice silenced him — " the regular- 
ized irregularity, so to speak, it wouldn't have been 
banned. It was the absence of a love story that 
the British public couldn't forgive. It was cheated. 
It was shocked." 


L E G E N D 

"But there is a love story at the bcginnni' 
isn't there?" I said. " I haven't read far." 

Instantly the Baxter girl exhibited me — 

" Yes, imagine ! She hasn't read it ! " 

"I've read The Vicar of Wakefield," I said. 
And then I was annoyed that I had shown I was 
annoyed. But at once Miss Howe helped me. 
Miss Howe was always niee to nie. 

"How far have you got? Where the man tires 
of her? Ah, yes! Well, after that it's just her 
struggle. She — she earns her living — in the in- 
evitable way. She grows into a miser. She 

Mr. Flood looked acute. 

"That's what upset them. They don't mind a 
Magdalen ; but Magdalen unaware, unrepentant, 
Magdalen preserving her ill-gotten gains — no, that's 
not quite nice." 

"Well, I don't know," said Miss Howe. "If 
anyone can't feel the spirit it's written in, the 
passion of pity — I think it's the most pitiful thing 
I've ever read. It made me shiver. That wretched 

creature, saving and sparing " And then to 

me, for I suppose I showed I was interested — 
" She wants to get away, you know, to get 
back into the country. It's her dream. The 
home-sickness ' ' 

"I suppose such a woman could ?" said 

the Baxter girl. 

" I used to argue it with Madala. Madala always 



said that, with some people, that animal craving 
for some special place was like love — a passion that 
could waste you. She said that every woman must 
have some devouring passion, for a man, or a 
child, or a place — every woman. And that for a 
beaten creature like that, it would be place — the 
homing instinct of a cat or a bird. And mixed up 
with it, religion — the vague shadowy ideal of peace 
and cleanly beauty — all that the wretched creature 
tries to express in her phrase — ' getting out and 
living quiet ' — that Madala typifies in the word 
' Eden.' It meant much to Madala. Don't you 
remember that passage towards the end of the 
book where she meets the man, the first man, and 
brings him home with her — and he doesn't even 
recognize her, and she doesn't even care?" She 
picked up a bundle of tattered proofs and turned 
them over. "Where is it? What an appalling 
hand she had ! " She stood a moment, reading a 
page and pursing her lips. " Oh, well, what's the 
use of reading it? We all know it." She flung 
it down. 

" Let me see," I said to the Baxter girl. She 
drew it towards me. It was the first proof I'd 
ever seen. It was corrected till it was difficult to 
read. But I made it out at last. 

With the closing of the door she dismissed him with 
one phrase for ever from her mind — 
" And that's that ! " 


L EG E N 1) 

She had long been accustomed thus to summarize 
her clients, dispassionately, as one els beastc at ;i 

show; and she judged them, not by their clothing or 
theil speech, not by the dark endured hours of their 
love or by the ticklish after-moment of the reckoning, 
but rather, as she hovered at the door with her provo- 
cative night smile dulled to a business friendliness, by 
their manner of leaving her. 

Always there was the fever to be gone; but some 
went furtively, with cautious, tiptoe feet that set the 

airs a-squeak with mockery. Her smile did not ehanp- 
for the swaggerer who stayed long and took his luck- 
kiss twice, but her eyes would harden. Mean, cheating 
mean, to kiss again and never pay again ! And some 
she watched and smiled upon who left her in a brutal 
silence. For them she had no resentment, rather the 
sullenness beneath her smile reached out to the revulsion 
of their bearing as to something welcomed and akin. 
\nd some gave back her smile with kindly words — and 
those she hated. 

But when, after his manner, tho man had gone, she 
had, as always, her ritual 

She locked her easy door and pulling out the key, 
put it before her on the table at the bedside. Left and 
right of it she laid her money down, adding to the 
night's gains the meagre leavings of her purse. Left 
and right the little piles grew, one heaped high for the 
needs of her day and her night, for food and roof and 
livery, and one a thin scatter of coppers and small 
silver that took long weeks to change into the dear, 
the exquisite, the Eden-opening gold. It was the bigger 
pile that she thrust so carelessly back into her bag, and 
the scattered ha'pence that she warmed in the cup of 
her two hands, holding them, jingle-jingle, at her ears, 
dropping them to her lap again to count anew, piling 
them before her to a little, narrowing tower, before she 



opened the child's jewel-case beside her, and, lifting 
the sheaf of letters that she never read but kept still 
and would always keep, for the savage pain they gave 
her when her eyes, saw them and her fingers touched 
them, she poured out the new treasure upon the sacred 
hoard beneath. 

Tenpence saved — and yesterday a shilling ! Five 
shillings last week. Fifty pounds ! She would soon 
have fifty pounds ! 

She put away the box of money, and so, surrendering 
at last to the awful bodily fatigue, lay down again 
upon the tousled bed, not to sleep — her sleeping time 
was later in the day — but to shut her eyes. 

For, by the amazing pity of God, a secret that is 
not every man's, was hers — the secret of the refuge 
appointed, behind shut eyes, of the return into eternity 
that is the shutting down of lids upon the eyes. The 
window glare, the screaming street below, the blank 
soiled ceiling with the flies, the walls, the unending 
pattern of the hateful walls, the clock, the finery, the 
beastly scents, the loathed familiars of stuff and wood 
and brass that blinked and creaked at her like voices 
crying — " Misery ! misery ! misery ! " — these were her 
world. Yet not her only world. She, who was so 
dim and blunted a woman-thing, could pass, with 
the warm dark velvet touch of dropping lids, not into 
the nullity of sleep, but into the grey place, limitless, 
timeless, where consciousness knows nothing of the 

She shut her eyes with the sigh of a tired dog, and 
instantly her soul lay back and floated, resting. 

There was no time, no thought, no feeling. There 
was peace — quiet— grey ness. At unmeasured intervals 
realization washed over her like waves, waves of peace — 
quiet — greyness. Greyness — she worshipped the blessed 
greyness. She wanted to give it a beloved name and 


LEG E N 1 > 

know none. ' Whon I am dead ! ' — ' For ever and ever, 
Amen ! ' — So she cam< nearest to ' Eternity.' 

Peace — quiet— greyness: greyness enduring fur ever, 
i fin i could \f\ be rent asunder tike a temple veil and 

let in misery— the window glare, the reeking room, the 
clodding Footsteps, the fingers tapping at her door — a 
frail eternity whose walls were dips of flesh. 

She called harshly — 

" ( iet out ! Get away ! Put it down outside then, 
can't you? " 

There was a mutter and the clank of a scuttledid, 
and a thud. The footsteps shuffled out of hearing. 

She shut her eyes again. 

Peace- — quiet — greyness. The waves were rocking her. 

She did not dream. There are, by that same pity 
of God, no dreams permitted in the place of refuge. 
But, as she lay in peace, she watched her own memorial 
thoughts rising about her, one by one, like bubbles in 
a glass, like cocks crowing in the dark of the 

A white road . . . the hill-top wind panting down it 
like a runner . . . dust . . . bright blue sky . . . sky- 
blue succory in the gutter . . . succory is so difficult 
to pick . . . tough ... it leaves a green cut on one's 
finger . . . succory in a pink vase on the mantel-piece 
. . . the fire's too hot for flowers . . . hot buttered 
toast . .the armchair wants mending . . . the horse- 
hair tickles one's ears as one lies back in it and warms 
one's toes and watches the rain drowning the fields 
outside . . . empty winter fields, all tousled and tus- 
socky from cow dung . . . grey skies . . . snow . . . 
not a soul in sight . . . and succory in a pink vase on 
the mantel-piece . . . because one's back in Eden . . . 
summer and winter are all one in Eden . . . picking 
buttercups in Eden as one used to do . . . all the fields 
grown full of buttercups . . . fifty buttercups make a 



bunch . . . fifty golden buttercups with the King's head 
on them . . . hurry up with the buttercups . . . one 
more bunch of buttercups will buy back Eden — Eden 

So, with a long gasping sigh would come the end. 
" Eden — " and the longing would be upon her, tearing 
like a wild beast at her eyes and her throat and her 
heart — " I want to go home. Oh God, let me go 
home ! Let me out ! Let me out ! I want to go 
home " 

The chapter ended. 

"And does she?" I looked up at the Baxter 
girl. "I'm always afraid of a bad ending. Does 
she get back in the end ? " 

The Baxter girl fluttered through the pages. 

" The money's stolen first — a man takes it — 

while she's asleep Oh, it's beastly, that scene. 

She has to save it all up again. It takes her years. 
But — oh, yes, she does go back." 

" The railway journey," said Miss Howe. " Do 
you remember? " 

" If you want happy endings — " the Baxter girl 
flattened out the last page with a jerk — " there 
you are ! " 

I read over her shoulder. The strong scent that 
hung about her seemed to float between me and the 

" Here we are — where she gets to the station. 
' Eden,' Madala calls it, but the woman calls it 
' Breckonridge.' 



At last and nt ln-.t the Station-board with the familiar 
name flashed past her window. She thrilled. The 
station lamps repeated it as the train slowed down. 
She thought — how long the platform's grown ! . . . a 
bookstall ! . .a bookstall on each side ! . . . there 
used not to be . . . wasn't the -tat ion smaller? . . . 

She spoke to the ticket collector shyly, blushing, like 
a girl going to an assignation and thinking that all 1 1 1 • - 
world must know it. 

He answered, already catching at the ticket of th«< 
traveller behind her — 

" How far to Breckonridge ? A mile, maybe — but 
you get the tram at the corner." 

She stared. She would have questioned him again, 
but the throng of people pressed her forward. 

A tram through the village ? . . . queer ! . . . not 
that it mattered to her . . . she would take the old 
short cut through the fields outside the station yard. . . . 
There was a stile . . . and a wild cherry tree. . . . 

She left the yard, the unfamiliar yard with asphalt 
and motors and a great iron bridge, crossed the road, 
and stopped bewildered. 

There were no fields. 

' Station Road.' The labelled yellow villas were like 
a row of faces. Eyes, nose, mouth — windows, porch, 
steps — steps like teeth. They grinned. 

In a sort of panic she ran past them down the road, 
a lumbering, clumsy woman. She trod on her skirt, 
and recovered herself with difficulty. She heard a small 
boy laugh and call after her. She clambered on to the 

" I want to go to the village — to Breckonridge " 

" It's all Breckonridge. 'Ow far ? " 

She stared. 

" I don't remember. He said a mile." 

" Town 'All, I expect." He took his toll and passed on 



She turned vaguely to a neighbour. 

" Town Hall ? I don't remember. The road's all 
different. Where are the fields ? " 

The neighbour nodded. 

" Built over. When were you here last ? Thirty 
years ? My word, you'll find changes ! I notice it, 
even in five. Very full it's getting Good train ser- 
vice. My husband can get to his office under the 

She said dazedly — 

" It was — it is — a little village." 

The woman laughed. 

" I daresay. But how long ago ? " 

" There were fields," she said under her breath 
" There were flowers " 

" Here's the Town Hall. Didn't you want the Town 
Hall ? " 

Unsteadily she rose and got out. The tram clanged 

She stood on an island where four roads met and 
looked about her. The sun stared down at her, a 
brazen city sun. The asphalt was hot and soft under 
her feet. Road-menders were at work in the fair-way. 
They struck alternately at the chisel between them and 
it was as if the rain of blows fell upon her. She felt 
stupid and dizzy. She did not know where to turn. 
There was nothing left of her village, and yet the place 
was familiar. There were drab houses and rows of 
shops and a stream of traffic, and the figures of women 
and men — menacing, impersonal figures of men — that 
hurried towards her down the endless streets. 

" Well? " said the Baxter girl. 
" But that's not the end?" I said. 
The Baxter girl looked at me oddly. 


'Why not?" An.l then— "How elac could it 

end? How would you make it end ? 

"Ob, I don't mean " I began. I hesitated. 

" I don't think I quite understand," I said. 

That was the truth. At the time- I couldn't 
follow it. It moved me. It swept me along. .But 
whether it was good or bad I didn't know. 1 hadn't 
the faintest idea of what it was driving at. I fell 
in a vague way that the people at home wouldn't 
have liked it. 

" What docs it mean? " I said to the Baxter girl. 

" That you can't eat your cake and have it, I 
suppose. You can get out of Eden, but you can I 
get back." 

Anita answered her contemptuously — 

" Is that all it means to you? " 

And yet we had spoken very softly. But Anita 
had eyes that ate up every movement in a room, 
and her small pretty ears never seemed to miss a 
significant word though ten people were talking. 
I had seen her glance uneasily at us and again at 
the two in the other room. I knew Great -aunt \ 
mutter was too low even for her, and Kent Rehan 
only nodded now and then, but even that annoyed 
her. She lifted her own voice to be sure that they 
should hear all that she said, as if afraid lest, ev« n 
for a moment, she should be left out of their 

" Oh ! " she said loudly and contemptuously, " I 
tell you what / see." 



She succeeded, if that pleased her. Kent Rehan 
raised his head and stared across at her with that 
impersonal expression of attention that, I was 
beginning to realize, could always anger her on any 
face. She had said a little while ago that she only 
cared for Miss Grey as an artist, and I believe that 
she believed it. But I don't think — I shall never 
think it true. I think Anita depended — depends, on 
other people more than she dreams. Poor Anita ! 
I can see her now, her whole personality challenging 
those dark abstracted eyes. But she spoke to the 
Baxter girl— 

" When Madala Grey chose Eden Walls for her 
title — when she flung it in the public face " 

I saw him give a shrug of fatigue or distaste — I 
couldn't tell which. Great-aunt, who had been 
sitting, her head on one side, with her sharp poll- 
parrot expression, crooked her finger at me. I went 
across to her and behind me I heard the Baxter girl — 

" You talk as if she were in a passion " 

And Anita 


So she was. I'm telling you. It's the wrongs, 
not of one woman, but of all women, of all ages of 
women, that burn behind it." 

" Votes for Women ! " It was Mr. Flood's voice. 

There was a laugh and I lost an answer. I caught 
only a vehement blur of words, because Great-aunt 
had me by the wrist. 

" Chatter, chatter ! I can't hear 'em. What's 
my daughter talking about? " 


1. EC. K N I) 

I hesitated. 

" About books, Auntie."" 

" Whose books ? *' she pounced. 

" Some writer, Auntie.*' 

"What's she saying about her, eh ? ' She held 
me bent down to her. I glanced al Kent Rehan. 
Hi was listening to us. I felt harried. 

"About — oh — whether a genius — whether she 

was a genius 

"Madala, eh?" 

" Yes, Auntie." 

I thought I heard him sigh. And at that— why. 
1 don't know — I turned on him. I was rude, I 
believe. I sounded silly and cruel, I know. Yet, 
heaven knows, that that was the last thing I wanted 
to be. 

I said angrily to him — 

" Oh, why do you stand there and listen ? Don't 
you see that I can't help myself? Why don't you 
go away ? What good can it do you to stay here, 
to stay and listen to it all ? " 

Then I stopped because he look< d at me for a 
moment, and Hushed, and then did turn away, back 
again to his old dreary post at the street window. 

Great-aunt chuckled. 

" That's right, little Jenny. Take your own way 
with them, Jenny ! " 

I said — 

" Let me go, Auntie dear," and I loosed her hand 
from my wrist and went after him : for of course 



the instant the words were out of my mouth I was 
ashamed of myself. I couldn't think what had 
possessed me. I was badly ashamed of myself. 

I came to him and said — 

"Mr. Rehan — I don't mean to be rude. Great- 
aunt— she doesn't understand. She made me talk. 
It wasn't rudeness; but you stood there, and I 
knew — I thought I knew, what you must think, must 
be thinking — " (but 'feeling' was the word I 
meant) " and I was sorry. I was angry because I 
was sorry. I didn't mean to be rude." 

He said — 

" It's all right. I didn't think you rude." 

Then I said — 

"But I meant it. Why do you stay? What 
good can it do you ? Why don't you go away from 
it all ? " 

And he — 

' Where is there to go ? I've been tramping all 

' I don't know. Up and down streets. It's — 

it's blinding, it's stifling " 

'The fog is," I said quickly. But we didn't 
mean the fog. 

He let himself down into the low wicker chair. I 
stood leaning against the sill, watching him. 

" You're just dead tired." I said. 

He nodded. Then, as if something in my words 
had stung him — 

I 113 



Where else? I've always eomc here. Every 
month. It was natural to comr." 

" But now — " I said (and I was so urgent with 
him because of all their talk that drummed still in 
my mind like a wasps' nest) — " I'd go away if I 
were you. What good does it do you ? They talk. 
It's — it's rather hateful. I've been listening. I'd 


" Where? " he said again. And I — 

"Haven't you anyone — at home?' 

But as I asked 1 knew that he hadn't. He had 
the look. Oh, he wore good clothes and I knew he 
wasn't poor. But it was written all over him that 
he looked after himself and did it expensively and 
badly. He had, too, that other look that goes with 
it — of a man who has never found anyone more 
interesting to him than himself. And the queer part 
was that it didn't seem selfish in him — and I'm sure 
it wasn't. It was just like the way a child takes 
you for granted, and tells you about its own big 
affairs, and never guesses that you have your own 
little affairs too. I suppose it was a fault in him; 
but it made me like him. And he talked to me 
simply and almost as if he needed helping out; as 
if he'd been just anybody. I never had to help out 
anyone before : it had always been the other way 
round. I'd thought, too, that celebrated people 
were always superior and brilliant and overwhelming, 
like Anita and Mr. Flood. But he wasn't. He was 
as simple as A. B.C. I liked him. I did like him. 



I felt happier, more at peace, standing there with 
him than I had felt since I had been in Anita's 
house. I think he would have gone on talking to 
me too, if it hadn't been for the Baxter girl. She 
spoilt it. She tilted back her chair yawning, and 
so caught sight of us, and laughed, and leaning over 
to Miss Howe, whispered in her ear. She was a 
crazy girl. At once I got up and came across to 
them, panic-stricken, hating her. I had to. I 
didn't want him worried, and you never knew what 
hateful thing the Baxter girl wouldn't say, and 
think that she was pleasing you. 

But without knowing it, Anita helped me. Her 
voice, rising excitedly in answer to some word of 
Mr. Flood's, recalled the Baxter girl. 

"Mystery? Of course there's a mj^stery ! She 
was at the height of her promise in Ploughed Fields. 
It's as good as Eden Walls in matter and, technically, 
better still. The third book ought to have settled 
her place in modern literature for good and all. 
It ought to have been her master-piece. But what 
does she do? We expect a chaplet of pearls, and 
she gives us a daisy-chain. Isn't that a mystery 
worth solving? Won't people read the Life for 
that if for nothing else ? Am I the only person who 
has asked what happened to her between her second 
and her third books ? " 

" I tell you, but you won't listen," Mr. Flood 
insisted. " Your romantic has become a realist and 
is flying from it to the resting-place of romance." 



" 1 do listen. Just so. You use your words and 
I use mine, but we mean the same thing. She's 
been bruising herself against facts. She has been 
walled up by facts. Hei \ ision is gone. Now whal 
was, in her ease, the all-obscuring fact? ' 

" She was a woman,*' said the blonde lady. " It 
could only be one thing. Don't I know the signs ? 
She even lost her sense of humour." 

"Yes, she did, didn't she?" cried the Baxter 
girl in a voice of relief. " Oh, I remember one day, 
just before the engagement was announced " 

"As if that had anything to do with it,'' said 
Anita scornfully. 

" — and she'd been so absent-minded I couldn't 
get anything out of her. I thought I knew her well 
enough to tease her. I had told her all my affairs. 
So — ' I believe you're in love,' I said. ' Oh, well, 
you'll get over it. It's a phase." Was there any 
harm in that? It was only repeating what you had 
said to me about her, you know," she reminded 
the blonde lady. " But she froze instantly. She 
made no comment. She just changed the subject. 
But I felt as if I had been introduced to a new 
Madala. I wished I hadn't said it." 

" You are a little fool, Beryl," said the blonde 
lady tolerantly. 

" But she was altered," insisted the Baxter girl. 
" The old Madala would have laughed." 

" Yes, she was altered," said Anita. " Her whole 
altitude to herself and her work changed that 



spring. How she horrified me one day. It was 
soon after Ploughed Fields came out, and we were 
talking about her new book, at least I was, pumping 
a little I confess, and suddenly she said — ' Anita, 
I don't think I'll write any more. This stuff — ' 
she had her hands on Eden Walls, ' it's harsh, it's 
ugly ; and so's Ploughed Fields. Isn't it ? ' ' It's 
true to life,' I said, ' that's the triumph of it.' ' Is 
it? ' she said. She looked at me in an uneasy sort 
of way. And then — -' I'd like to write a kind book, 
a beautiful book.' I told her that she couldn't, 
that she was a realist. ' That's why,' she said, ' I 
don't think I'll write any more.' I laughed, of 
course. Anybody would have laughed. ' Oh,' she 
said, ' I mean it. I haven't an idea in my head. 
I'm tired and empty. I think I shall go away for 
a wander. There's always the country, anyhow.' 
' Well, Madala,' I said, ' I think you're ungrateful. 
You're a made woman. You've got your name : 

you've got your line : you've got your own gift ' 

' Oh, that ! ' she said, as if she were flicking off a 
fly. I was irritated. It was so arrogant. ' What 
more do you want ? ' I asked her. ' What more can 
you want? ' She said — ' I don't know,' looking at 
me, you know, as if she expected me to tell her. I 
disliked that mood of hers. One did expect, with 
a woman of her capacity, to be entertained as it 
were, to have ideas presented, not to be asked to 
provide them. Then she began, a propos of nothing 

at all — ' If I ever marry ' That startled me. 


L E G E N I) 

We'd never touched <>n the subject before. ' Oh, 

my dear Madala,' I said, l you must n< vt t think of 
anything so — so unnecessary. For you, of all 
people, it would be fatal. It would waste your time, 
it would distract your thoughts, it would narrow 
your outlook, it would end by spoiling your work 
altogether. I've seen it happen so often. It's 
terrible to me even to think of a woman with a 

future like yours, throwing it away just for the ' 

She interrupted me. ' I wouldn't marry for the 
sake of getting married, if you mean that. Not even 
for children.' " 

"You didn't mean that, did you, Anita?" said 
Miss Howe smiling a little. 

" Certainly not. But I had always been afraid 
that she might be tempted to marry for the 
adventure's sake, for the mere experience, for 
the " 

" Copy," said Mr. Flood. " I always said so. 
Yes?" " 

" ' Oh well, Madala,' I said to her, c you know 
what I think. I'm not one to quote Kipling, but — 
He travels fastest who travels alone.' She looked at 
me so strangely. ' Alone ? ' she said. ' Alone. It's 
the cruellest word in the language. There's drown- 
ing in it.' ' Well, without conceit, Madala,' I said, 
' I can affirm that I have been alone, spiritually, all 
my life.' ' Ah, yes,' she said, ' but you're different.' 
And that," Anita broke off, " was what I liked in 
Madala. She did recognize differences. She could 



appreciate. She wasn't absorbed in herself. She 
said to me quite humbly — ' I'm not strong, I sup- 
pose ; but I don't suffice myself. I can't bear myself 
sometimes. I can't bear the burden of myself. 
Can't you understand ? ' ' Frankly,' I said, ' I 
can't. I'm a modern woman, and the modern 
woman is a pioneer. She's the Columbus of her own 
individuality. She must be. It's her career. It's 
her destiny.' She answered me pettishly, like a 
naughty child — ' I don't want to be a pioneer.' 
' You're that,' I said, ' already, whether you want 
to be or not.' Then she said to me, with that danc- 
ing, impish look that her eyes and her lips and her 
white teeth used to manage between them — ' All 
right ! If I've got to be, I will. But I'll be a 
pioneer in my own way. I swear I'll shock the lot 
of you." 

" Oho ! " said Mr. Flood with exaggerated 

"Exactly ! " Anita gave his agreement such eager 
welcome. " That put me on the qui-vive. Knowing 
her as I did, it was a very strong hint. I awaited 
developments. Frankly, I was prepared for a 
scandal, a romance, anything you please in the way 
of extravagance. That's why the Carey marriage, 
that tameness, upset me so. It was not what I was 
expecting. Really, I don't know which was more 
of a shock to me, The Resting-place or the marriage. 
Hardly had I recovered from the one when " 

" Oh, The Resting-place was the shock of my life 


L E c; E N I > 

too." lie giggled. " I mourned. I nssnro you thai 
I mourned over it. Thai opening, you know — 
' There was once ' — And the end again — ' So they 
were married and had children and lived happily 
ever after.' Pastiche ! And then to be invited to 
wade through a conscientious account of how they 
achieved it ! Too bad of Madala ! As if the poor 
but virtuous artist' s-model weren't a drug on 
the market already ! And the impecunious artist 
himself — stooping, you know ! Oh, I sat in ashes." 

Miss Howe clapped her hands. 

"Jasper, I love you. I do love you. Did she 
pull your leg too? Both legs? She did ! She did ! 
Oh, there's only one Madala ! " 

Mr. Flood's vanity was in his cheeks while she 
rattled on. 

" Darling Jasper, I thought better of you ! Can't 
you see the whole thing's a skit? Giving the jam- 
pot public what they wanted ! Why, it's been out 
a year and they're sucking the spoon still. It's 
the resting-place ! Ask the libraries ! Oh, can't 
you see? " 

" If it is parody," said Mr. Flood slowly, "then, 
I admit, it's unique." 

"What else? You'll not deny humour to 

"I do ! " the blonde lady nodded her head. 
" Once a woman is in love she's quite hopeless." 

" I don't see how parody could be in question," 
Anita broke in. " Anybody reading the book carc- 



fully must see that she's in earnest. That's the 
tragedy of it." 

" The literary tragedy? " 

" Not only literary. The psychological value is 
enormous. It's not art, it's record. It's photo- 
graphy. That happened. That happened, tragic- 
ally, to Madala. Oh, not the trimmings, of course, 
not the happy-ever-after. But to me it's perfectly 
clear that that lapse into Family Herald romance 
has had its equivalent in Madala's own life. I've 
always felt a certain weakness in her character, you 
know — a certain sentimentalism." 

" In the author of Eden Walls ? " said Miss Howe 

" No, dear lady ! But in the author of The 
Resting-ylace" Mr. Flood had recovered himself. 

" Skit, I tell you, skit ! " she insisted. And they 
continued to bicker in undertones while Anita 
summed up the situation. 

" No, my theory is this — Madala Grey met some 
man " 

"Carey?" asked Mr. Flood, dividing his 

"No, Carey comes later. There was — an 
episode " 

" Episodes? " he amended. 

" Possibly. But an episode anyhow, that I place 
myself at the end of the Ploughed Fields period. It 
may have been later, it may have been the following 
summer while she was working at The Resting- 



place, I'm open to conviction there. But an 
episode, there must have been. In The Betting- 

place she wrote it down as it ought to have hap- 

"Why ought?" 

" Well, obviously it didn't happen or she wouldn't 
have become Mrs. Carey." 

"The gentleman loved and rode away, you 

" Something of the sort. Something went wrong." 

" I see." Miss Howe was interested. " It's a 
theory, anyhow. And then in sheer savage irony 
at her own weakness " 


Not a bit. In sheer weak longing- 

" I see. If your theory is correct — I don't know 
what you base it on " 

" Internal evidence," said Anita airily. 

' Then I can imagine that The Resting-place was 
a relief to write. Poor Madala ! " 

" And then," concluded Anita triumphantly, 
" then appears Carey, and she's too worn out, too 
exhausted with her own frustrated emotions to care 
what happens. The book's in her head still, and she 
her own heroine. He appears to her — I admit that, 
it's possible that even Carey might appear to her — 
as a refuge, a resting-place." 

" Yes, but you don't like Mr. Carey," said the 
Baxter girl. ' But if Madala did ? Isn't it possible 

that in Madala's eyes ? Why shouldn't the 

hero be Mr. Carey himself? " 



Anita's eyes were bright with the cold anger that 
she always showed at the name. 

" My good girl, you know nothing about John 
Carey, or you'd rule that out. Have you ever seen 
him? I thought not. And yet you have seen him. 
All day. Every day. When you talk of the man 
in the street, whom do you mean ? What utterly 
common-place face is in your mind ? Shall I tell you 
what is in mine ? John Carey. Ordinary ! Ordin- 
ary ! The apotheosis of the uninspired ! Oh, I 
haven't any words. Look for yourself." She 
rummaged furiously in the half-opened desk and 
flung out a fading snapshot on a mount. " There 
he is ! That's the thing she married ! ' : 

" What's he doing in your holy of holies ? " Mr. 
Flood's eyes seemed to bore into her desk. 

Anita, still thrusting down the overflowing papers, 
answered coldly — 

" Madala sent it to Mother. She said that it wasn't 
good enough but that it would give her an idea." 

" It certainly gives one an idea," said the blonde 
lady languorously. 

" And then she put in a post-script that it didn't 
do him justice because the sun was in his eyes. 
Defiantly, as it were. Isn't that significant ? She'd 
never own to a mistake. Pride ! She had the 
devil's own pride. Look at the way she took her 
reviews ! And in this case she would be bound to 
defend him. She'd defend anything she'd once 
taken under her wing." 



•' W« 11, \(»n know,*' drawled the blonde lady, her 

s on the photograph, " according to this he 

topped her by two inches. I don't, somehow 
him under Madala's wing." And linn — "After all, 
there's something rather fascinating in bone and 

" Yes, and I don't sec," the Baxter girl hurried 
into defiance, " honestly I don't sec, Miss Serle, why 
she shouldn't have been in love with him. Of 
course, it's not a clever face, but it's good-tempered, 
and it's good-looking, and there's a twinkle. Madala 
loved a twinkle. And I don't see " 

Anita crushed her. 

" We're discussing the standards of Madala Grey." 

" That's not the point cither, Anita." Mr. Flood 
would sometimes rouse himself to defend the Baxter 
girl. " You know something. You own to it. 
What do vou know? " 

" Simply that she was in love with someone else. 
I've papers that prove it. Now it was either some 
man whom none of us know, whom for some reason 

she wouldn't let us know, or "' she hesitated. 

Then she began again — " Mind you, I don't commit 
myself, but — has the likeness never struck you ? 

If ugh Barrington in The Resting-place and ? ' 

Her eyes flickered towards K< nt llehan. 

Mr. Flood whistled. 

" Be careful, Anita." 

"He?" Miss Howe laughed, but kindly. "He's 
lost to the world. He'll be worse than ever now." 



" There ! " Anita dropped upon the sentence like 
a hawk upon a heather bird. " You see ! You say 
that ! And yet you tell me there was nothing — 
nothing — between them? Didn't she rave about 
him ? his talents ? his personality ? his charm ? And 
then she goes and writes the story of an artist's- 
model ! " 

Miss Howe laughed again. 

" When a thing's as obvious as that, it probably 
isn't so. Besides, the artist's-model marries the 

" Exactly. She leaves them, and us, cloyed with 
love in a cottage. I repeat, the artist's-model 
marries the artist because Madala Grey didn't. It's 
the merest shadow of a solution as yet, but — isn't 
that a living portrait in The Resting-place ? Oh, I 
know it by heart 

" Maybe it was his height that gave you the impres- 
sion, less of weakness than of vagueness, as if his high 
forehead touched cloud-land, and were obscured by 
dreams; for his cold eyes guarded his mind from you, 
and his dark beard hid his mouth." 

" You do know it by heart ! " said Miss Howe. 

" Of course I know it by heart. It was the first 
clue. Can anybody read those lines without 
recognizing him ? " 

The Baxter girl persisted — 

" But I don't see it. Oh, of course it is like him — 
but because she borrowed his face, the story needn't 



be about him. Why couldn't she just imagine tin- 
story ? If she was a genius ? " 

"That remains the point." said Mr. Flood. 

" She was," insisted Anita stubbornly. 

Miss Howe smiled and said nothing. 

lb continued — 

" The mere fact that she was a genius would 
prevent such a descent into milk and sugar, unless 
she were money-making or love-sick.*' 

The blonde lady spoke — 

" Just so ! Love-sick — sick of love — savage with 
love — savaging her holy of holies. A parody. Lilas 

But Miss Howe shook her head. 

" No, no. I didn't mean that sort of parody. 
Madala may have had her emotions, but shed 
always be good-tempered about them. She's laugh- 
ing at herself in The Resting-place as well as at us." 

" But why do you cavil at it so ? " said the Baxter 
girl slowly. 

" Only at its plain meaning. Grant the parody 
and " 

"But why can't you just read it as it stands? 
Why do you say sentimental? I — I liked it." 

Anita took the book from her hand. 

"But, my dear child, anybody can write this 
sort of thing. Where's the passage the ladies' 
papers rave about, where they have a day on the 
river together? " She whipped over the pages while 
I said to the Baxter girl — 



"What is it? What's it about? What's the 

" Oh, there isn't any. That's what they com- 
plain of. It's just a little artist's-model who sits 
to an elderly, broken-down dreamer, and thinks 
him a god. The duke and door-mat touch. It's 
just how two people fall in love and find it out. It's 
as simple as A. B.C. But people ate it when it 
came out." 

" Treacle, I tell you," insisted Mr. Flood. 

Anita overheard him. 

" Exactly ! Listen to this — 

. . . and they landed at last in a meadow of brilliant, 
brook-fed grass. 

She had no words in which to say a thousand times 
' How beautiful ! ' Words ? She had never known a 
country June. She had never seen whole hedges clotted 
with bloom, she had never in all her life breathed the 
perfume of the may or heard a lark's ecstasy. She 
had never — and to her simplicity there was no break 
in the chain of thought — she had never before been 
alone with him, unpaid, not his servant but his equal 
and companion. How should she have words ? 

She sat in the grass with the tall ox-eyes nodding 
at her elbow and looked at him from under her hat 
with a little eased sigh. This, after the dust of the 
journey, of the day, of her life, was bliss. She prepared 
herself for this bliss, deliberately, as she did everything. 
She was too poor and too hungry to be wasteful of her 
happiness : she must have every crumb. Therefore she 
had looked first at herself, critically, with her trained 
eye, fingering the frill of her blouse, flinging a scatter 



of skirt across heir dusty city feet, lesl her po v er t y 

should j;ir his thoughts of her. 

'I'll, n ahe looked at him. She -aw him f< »r a moment 
with undazzled eyes, the blue sky enriohed with clo 
behind him. She was Baying to herself — 'I'm not a 
Eool. 1 can sec Btraight. 1 know what ho is. He's 
just an ordinary man in :i hot, Mack suit. He stoops, 
I suppose. He's worn out with work. He'll never he 
young again. And there's nothing particular about 
him. Then what makes me like him? But I do. 1 
do. He has only to turn and smile at me ' 

Then he turned and smiled at her, and it seemed t<> 
her that the glamour of the gilded day passed o\ er 
and into him as ho smiled, glorifying him so that she 
caught her breath at his beauty. She knew her happi- 
ness. She knew herself and him. He was the sum of 
the blue sky and green, green grass, and the shining 
waters and the flowers with their sweet smell, and the 
singing birds and the hum of the little tilings of the air. 
All beauty was summed up in him : lie was food to 
her and sunshine and music : he was her absolute good : 
and she thought that someone ought to see that hi- 
socks were mended properly, for there was a great 
ladder down one ankle, darned with wrong-coloured 

" Well ? " She shut the book. 

" I like it," said the Baxter girl stubbornly. 

Mr. Flood twisted uneasily in his seat. 

" Oh, pretty, of course. Of course it's pleasant 
enough in a way. But Madala oughtn't to be 
pretty. Think of the stuff she can do." 

" But can't you see," Miss Howe broke in, " how 
it parodies the slush and sugar school? ' 



Anita shook her head. 

" She used another manner when she was ironical. 
I wish you were right. Oh, you may be — I must 
consider — but I'm afraid that she is in earnest. 
That phrase now — ' The green, green grass,' (why 
double the adjective ?) ' the shining waters, the sing- 
ing birds ' — pitiful ! And that anti-climax — ' He 
was her absolute good : and she thought that 
someone ought to see that his socks were mended 
properly.' I ask you— is it art? " 

' Not as serious work, of course," said Miss 
Howe, "but " 

" I wish I could think so," said Anita. 

" Well, I wish I could do it," said the Baxter 
girl. " What do you say, Jenny? " 

But it had brought back the country to me. It 
had brought back home. I hadn't anything to say 
to them. 

" And she wouldn't discuss it, you know. She 
came in after supper that night, just as I was reading 
the last chapter. It had only been out a day. 
There she sat, where you are now, Lila, smiling, 
with her hands in her lap and her eyes fixed on her 
hands, waiting for me to finish." 

" Oh — " Miss Howe gave a little gushing scream, 
" that reminds me — d'you know, Anita, some- 
body actually told me that nobody had seen The 
Resting-place before it was published, not even you. 
I was amused. I denied it, of course." 

"Why?" said Anita coldly. 
k 129 


.Miss Howe screamed again. 
•"I'll. 11 you didn't f Oh, my dear? " 
"Emancipation with a vengi ;mce," said Mr. Flood. 
"It had to come, Anita," said Miss Howe with 
deadly sympathy. 

" It was not t hat. It was only — she was so ext ra- 

ordinarily sensitise about The Resting-place — unlike 
herself altogether. I think, I've always thought 
that she herself knew how unworthy it was of her. 
She — what's the use of disguising it?— she. at least, 
had a value for my judgment," her eyes, wandering 
past Miss Howe, brooded upon the Baxter girl, " and 
she knew what my judgment would be. She owned 
it. She anticipated it. I had shut the book, you 
know, quietly. She sat so still that I thought she 
was asleep. She had had one of those insane 


Of course. She used to take a crowd of children 
into the country, didn't she? " 

" Once a week. Slum children." 

" I know. ' To eat buttercups,' she told me," 
said Miss Howe. 

" It was ridiculous, you know. She couldn't 
afford it. Look at the way she lived ! 1 always 
said to her, 'If you can afford mad extravagances of 
that sort, you can afford a decent flat in a decent 
neighbourhood ' " 

"Oh, but I loved those rooms," said the Baxter 
girl, " with the Spanish leather screen round the 



Anita glanced behind her. 

" Ah, you've noticed ? I happened to admire it 
one day and — you know what she is — ' Would you 
like it ? Why, of course, it would just suit the rest 
of your things. Oh, you must have it. I'd like 
you to. It's far too big for this room.' ' Oh,' I 

said, ' if you want it housed ' So that's how 

it comes to be here. One couldn't hurt her feelings. 
And you know, it was quite unsuitable to lodging- 
house furniture." 

Miss Howe laughed. 

' It disguised the wash-hand-stand. That was 
all Madala cared. Only then she always took you 
round to show you how beautifully it did disguise it." 

" Typical," said Mr. Flood. " Her reserves were 

" But she had her reserves," said Miss Howe 

" I doubt that," he answered her. 

" Oh, but she had." Anita recovered her place 
in the talk. " Curious reserves. You know how 
she came to me over Eden Walls and Ploughed Fields. 
I saw every chapter. But as I was telling you, 
she wouldn't hear a criticism of The Resting-place. 
That evening she pounced on me. She was as quick 
as light. She said — ' You don't like it ! I knew 
you wouldn't ! Never mind, Anita. Forget it ! 
Put it in the fire ! You like me. What do the 
books matter ? ' She'd been watching me all the 


L EG EN 1) 

'She had eyefl in the hack of her head/ 1 said 

Miss Howe. 

" Kind eyes." said the Baxter u r irl. 

" And I assure yon slit- wouldn't have said another 
word on the subject if I hadn't insisted. I told her 
not to be ridiculous. How could I help being dis- 
appointed? How could I separate her from her 
work? I was disappointed, bitterly. I made it 
clear. I said to her — ' Well, Madala, all I can say 
is that if your future output is to be on a level with 
this — this pot-boiler " 

" It's not a pot-boiler," said the Baxter girl loudly 
and quite rudely. " I don't know exactly what it 
is, but it's not a pot-boiler." 

Anita stared her down. 

" ' — pot-boiler,' I said, ' then — I wash my hands 
of you.' I wanted to rouse her. I couldn't under- 
stand her." 

"Well?" said Miss Howe. 

They all laughed. 

" Oh, you can guess." Anita was petulant, but 
she, too, laughed a little. " You know her way. 
She just sat smiling and twisting a ring that she 
wore and looking like a scolded child." 

"But what did she say?" said the Baxter girl. 

" Nothing to the point. ' Oh,' she said, ' but 
Anita, if I'd never written anything, wouldn't 
you be just as fond of me ? ' Such a silly thing to 
say ! She was distressing at times. She embar- 
rassed me. Fond of her ! She knew my interests 



were intellectual. Fond of her ! For a woman of 
her brains her standard of values was childish." 

" But you were fond of her, you know," said 
Miss Howe. 

" Oh, as for that — there was something about 

her — she had a certain way After all, if it gave 

her pleasure to be demonstrative, it was easier to 
acquiesce. But she made a fetish of such things. 
I was only trying to explain to her, as I tell you, 
that it was quite impossible to separate creator and 
creatures, and that to me she was Eden Walls and 
Ploughed Fields, and if you believe me, she was upon 
me like a whirlwind, shaking me by the shoulders, 
and crying out — ' No, no, stop ! You're to stop ! 
It's me you like, not the books. I hate them. I 
hate all that. I shall get away from all that one 
day.' And I said — ' I don't wonder you're ashamed 
of The Resting-place. I advise you to get to work 
at once on your new book. You'll find that if you 
pull yourself together — — ' And all she said was 
— ' Nita ! Nita ! Don't ! ' And she looked at me 

in such a curious way " 

" How ? " somebody said. 

" I don't know— laughing — despairing. She'd no 
right to look at me like that. It was I who was in 

'I'd like to have seen you two," said Miss 

' I didn't know what had got into her. Of course 
I blame myself. I ought to have followed it out. 


I illicit have prevented things. Hut I was annoyed 

and she saw it, and she " 

Miss Howe twinkled. 

"She wouldn't let you be annoyed with her long. 
Wha1 did she do witli you. Anita ? " 

"She? I don't know what you mean. We 
changed the subject. And us a matter of fact I was 
much occupied at the time with the Anthology" 
She paused. " She had excellent taste," said Anita 
regretfully. "Naturally 1 reserved to myself the 
final decision, but " 

" Just so," said Mr. Flood. 

" Be quiet, Jasper." The blonde lady's draperies 
dusted his shoulder intimately. 

" She'd brought me a delicious thing of Lady 
Nairn's, I remember, that I'd overlooked. And 
from talking of the Anthology we came, somehow, 
to talking about mc. Yes — " Anita gave an embar- 
rassed half laugh — " She began to talk to mc, turn- 
ing the tables as it were — about myself. She'd 
never, in all the years I'd known her, taken such 
a tone. Astonishing! As if — as if I were the 
younger." She stared at them, as one combating 
an unuttered criticism. " I— liked it," said Anita 
defiantly. "There was nothing impertinent. It 
was heartening. She made me feel that one person 
in the world, at least, knew me — knew my work. 
I realized, suddenly, that while I had been studying 
her, she must have been studying mc, that she 
understood my capacities, my limitations, my 



possibilities, almost as well as I did myself. The 
relief of it — indescribable ! She was extraordinarily 
plain-spoken. As a rule, you know, I thought her 
manner— — " 

"Insincere?" said the Baxter girl. ""Yes, I've 
heard people say that." 

" It had that effect. It didn't seem possible that 
she could like everj^one as much as she made them 
think she did. But with me, at least, she was always 
frankness itself. She believes, you know, — she 
believed, that is, that all my work so far, even the 
Anthology and the Famous Women series, not to 
mention the lighter work, is still preliminary : that 
my — " she hesitated — " my master-piece, she called 
it, was still to come. She said that, though she 
appreciated all my work, I hadn't ' found my- 
self.' Yes ! from that child to me it was amusing. 
But right, you know. She said that my line, whether 
I dealt with a period or a person, w r ould always be 
critical, but that I'd never had a big success because 
so far I'd been merely critical : that I'd never 
become identified with my subject : that I'd always 
remained aloof — inhuman. Yes, she said that. A 
curious theory — but it interested me. But she said 
that it was only the real theme I needed, the en- 
grossing subject. She said that my chance would 
come : that ' she felt it in her bones.' I can hear 
her voice now r — ' Don't you worry, Nita ! It'll 
come to you one day. A big thing. Biography, I 
shouldn't wonder. And I shall sit and say — I told 



you so — I told you so ! ' Y. s. she talked like thai . 
Oh, it's nothing when I repeal it, but if you knew 
how it seemed to poui mw Life into me. It was 
the belief in her voice ! " 

"She always believed in you," said Miss Howe 
with a certain harshness. " Insincere ! You should 
have heard her talk of your Famous Women /" And 
then — " Yes. She believed in you right enough." 

"More than I did in her that night. I couldn't 
forget The Resting-place. It lay on the table, and 
every now and then, when I felt most comfort in 
her, my eyes would fall on it, and it would jar me. 
She felt it too. "When I saw her off at last — it had 
grown very late — she stopped at the gate and 
turned and came running back. I thought that 
she had forgotten her handbag. She nearly always 
forgot her handbag. But no, it was The Resting- 
place that was on her mind. It was — ' Nita ! try 
it again. Maybe you'd like it better.' And then — 
1 Nita ! I enjoyed writing it so.' ' That's something, 
at any rate,' I said, not wanting, you know, to be 
unkind. Then she said—' I wish you liked it. 
Because, you know, Nita — ' and stopped as if she 
wanted to tell me something and couldn't make 
up her mind. ' Well, what ? ' I said. It was cold 
on the steps. She hesitated. She looked at me. 
For an instant I had an absurd impression that she 
was going to cry. Then she kissed me. She'd 
kissed me good-night once already, though, you 
know, we never did as a rule. And then, off she 



went without another word. I was quite bewildered 
by her. I nearly called her back; but it was one 
of those deep dark blue nights : it seemed to swallow 
her up at once. But I heard her footsteps for a 
long while after — dragging steps, as if she were 
tired. T wasn't. It was as if she had put some- 
thing into me. I went back into the house and I 
worked till daylight. And all the next day I 
worked — worked well. I felt, I remember, so hope- 
ful, so full of power. By the evening I had quite a 
mass of material to show her, if she came. I half 
expected her to come. But instead — " she fumbled 
among her papers — " I got this." 

It was a sheet of note-paper, a sheet that looked 
as if it had been crushed into a ball and then 
smoothed out again for careful folding. Anita's 
fingers were still ironing out the crinkled edge while 
she read it aloud. 

" I want to tell you something. I tried to tell you 
yesterday, but somehow I couldn't. It oughtn't to be 
difficult, yet all this afternoon I've been writing to you 
in an exercise book, and crossing out, and re -phrasing, 
and putting in again as carefully and dissatisfiedly as 
if it were Opus 4. I wish it were, because then you'd 
be very much pleased with Madala Grey and forget 
the dreadful shock of Opus 3 ! I was always afraid 
you wouldn't like it, and sorry, because I like it more 
than all my other work put together. Have you never 
even begun to guess why ? But how should you, when 
I didn't know myself until after it was finished ? Coming 
events, I suppose. It's quite true — one isn't overtaken 



by fate : one prepares em's own fate : one carrion it 
about inside one, like a child. I hear you say — 'Can't 
yon come to the point ? ' X'», I can't. Partly I >< -en use 
I'm afraid of what you'll Bay, because I'm afraid you'll 
1" disappointed, and partly, -• Iti-hly, because tin -re is 
a queer pleasure in beat inn about the hush that bears 
my flower. It's too beautiful to pick straight away 
in one rough snatch of a sentence. Am I selfish ? 
You've been so kind to me. 1 know you will be sorry 
and that troubles me. And yet — Anita, I am going to !>•• 
married. You met him once in the churchyard at home, 
do you remember ? I've seen him now and then when 
I took the children down there in the summer. He 

There's something scratched out here," said Anita. 

" I think we shall be happy. When you get accus- 
tomed to the idea I hope you will like him." 

She paused. 

" Now what do you make of that ? " said Anita. 

" It explains the expeditions with the children," 
said Mr. Flood. "They were always too — philan- 
thropic, to be quite — eh? " 

" Oh, but she began those outings ages ago," 
said Miss Howe quickly. 

" Besides," said Anita, " she didn't go every week 
that summer. That's the point. She told me her- 
self that she was so busy that she had to get help — 
one of those mission women. Now why was she so 

" Diversions in the country and attractions in 
town? " said Mr. Flood. " It all takes time." 



Anita nodded. 

"You think that? So do I. And attractions 
in town ! Exactly ! At any rate I shall make that 
the big chapter, the convincing chapter, of the 
Life. I think I shall be able to prove that that 
summer was the climax of her affairs. I grant 
you that she met Carey that summer, but as she 
says herself, a few times only. We must look 
nearer home than Carey." 

" Oh, but there's such a thing as love at first 
sight," protested the Baxter girl, and iVnita dealt 
with her in swift parenthesis — 

" I was there when they first met. Shouldn't I 

have realized ? " And then, continuing — "Well, 

reckon up my points. To begin with — the difference 
in her that we all noticed, the restlessness, the — 
unhappiness one might almost say, the aloofness — 
oh, don't you know what I mean ? as if she didn't 
belong to us any more." 

" As if she didn't belong to herself any more." 

" Yes, yes, that's even more what I mean. Then 
comes the fact that we saw so little of her. What 
did she do with her time? Writing The Resting- 
place, was her explanation, but — is that gospel? 
Do you really believe that she sat at home writing 
and dreaming all those long summer days and 
nights, except when she was — eating buttercups — 
with Carey and her chaperons? And then comes 
The Resting-place with its appalling falling-off, and 
following on that, this letter, this sudden engage- 



in nt. Now doesn't it look — I ask you, doesn't 
it look as if something had been going on behind 

all our backs and had at last come to a head? ' 

"Oh, that she was in love is certain," said Mr. 
Flood. "Was there ever a woman of genius who 
wasn't? " 

" Exactly. It's a moral certainty. And this 
letter to me proves that, whoever it was, it wasn't 
Carey. ' I think wc shall be happy.' ' I hope 
you will like him.' Is that the way a woman writes 
of her first love or her first lover? " 

" Oh, but that sentence just before " the 

Baxter girl stretched out her hand for the letter — 

" • The bush that bears my flower ' ' She spoke 

sympathetically; but it jarred me. I wondered 
how I should feel if I thought that the Baxter girl 
would ever read my letters aloud. 

"Ah, that's the literary touch. Madala could 
never resist embroideries. Besides — she wants to 
confuse me. That means nothing. But here, you 

sec " she took the letter out of the Baxter girl's 

hand — " as soon as she comes to the point, the real 
point, the confession, the apologia — then the baldest 
sentences. Try to remember that Madala Grey has 
written one of the strongest love scenes of the 
decade, and all she can say of the man she is to 
marry is — ' I hope you will like him.' ' 

" Urn ! It's curious ! " Miss Howe was frowning. 

"Isn't it? And then you know, the whole 
manner of the engagement was so unlike her usual 



triumphant way. She always swept one along, 
didn't she ? But in the matter of the marriage she 
seems, as far as I can make out, to have been 
perfectly passive. She left everything to the man 
— arrangements — furniture — I imagine she even 
bought her clothes to please him. And the wedding 
itself — no reception, no presents, no notice to any- 
one, so sudden, so private. Not a word even to her 
oldest friends " 

Great-aunt stirred in her corner. 

" — there was something so furtive about it all : 
as if she were running away from something." 

Miss Howe sat up. 

" D'you mean? — what do you mean, Anita? 
Are you hinting ?" 

Anita looked at her in a puzzled way that relieved 
me, I hardly knew why. 

" Why, only that it carries out my theory — of 
Carey as a refuge." 

"From what?" 

" Life — frustration — what did you think I 
meant? " 

" I don't know. Nothing. It was my evil mind, 
I suppose." She flushed. 

"How she harps on the child ! " the Baxter girl 
carried it on. 

" That's a mere simile " said Miss Howe 


"But a queer simile ! " 

" The marriage was sudden," said Mr. Flood from 


L E G K N D 

the floor in his silky voice. ''Anita's theory has iis 

" A seven months' child ! It \v;is the first word 
that t lie blonde lady had said for some time. There 
was something sluggishly cold, slimily cold, in her 
abstracted voice. 

Anita started. 

" I never suggested that," she said sharply, lint 
there was a quiver in her voice that was more 
excitement than anger. 

"My dear lady, nobody suggests anything. We 
are only remarking that the union of onr Madala 
and her ' refuge ' — the soubriquet is yours, by the 
way — was as surprising as it was — er — sudden. 
That was your idea? r He turned to the shadows 
and from them the blonde lady nodded, smiling. 

At the time, you know, I didn't understand them. 
They were so quick and allusive. They said more 
in jerks and nods and pauses than in actual speech. 
But I saw the smile on that woman's face, and 
heard the way he said ' our Madala.' I felt myself 
growing angry and panic-stricken, and I was quite 
helpless. I just went across the room to that big 
man sitting dully in his corner, in his dream, and I 
caught his arm and cried to him under my breath — 

" You must come. You must come and stop 
them. They're talking about her. Come quickly. 
They — they're saying beastly things." 

He gave me one look. Then he got up and went 
swiftly from one room to the other. But swiftly 



as he moved and I followed, someone else was there 
before us to fight that battle. 

It was Great- aunt Serle. 

She was a heavy old woman and feeble. She 
never stirred as a rule without a helping arm ; but 
somehow she had got herself out of her seat and 
across the floor to the table, and there she stood, 
her knitting gripped as if it were a weapon, the 
long thread of it stretched and taut from the ball 
that had rolled round the chair-leg, her free hand 
and her tremulous head jerking and snapping and 
poking at that amazed assembly as she rated 
them — 

" I won't allow such talk. Anita, I won't have 
it. If I let you bring home friends — ought to know 

better ! And you " the blonde lady was spitted, 

as it were, on that unerring finger, " you're a wicked 
woman. That's what you are — a wicked, scandalous 
woman. And you, Anita, ought to be ashamed of 
yourself, to let her talk so of my girl. Such a 
woman ! Paint and powder ! Envy, hatred, 
malice ! And in my house too ! Tell her to wash 
her face ! " She glowered at them. 

There was a blank pause and then a sound some- 
where, like the end of a spurting giggle. It must 
have been the Baxter girl. There was a most 
uncomfortable moment, before Anita cried out 
'' Mother!" in a horrified voice, and Miss Howe 
said " Beryl ! " in a voice not quite as horrified. 

But the blonde lady sat through it all quite 


LEG EN 1) 

calmly, smiling and moistening her lips. At last 
she drawled out — 

"Nita! Your dear mother's quite upset. So 
sorry, Nita ! ' Then, a very little lower, but vre 
could all hear it — " Poor dear Nita! Quite a trial 
for poor dear Nita ! " 

Hut Anita had jumped up. She was very much 
flustered and annoyed. I think, too, that she was 
startled. I know that I was startled. Great-aunt 
didn't look like herself. She was like a witch in a 
picture-book, and her voice had been quite strong 
and commanding. 

Anita tried to quiet her and get her away. 

" Mother ! You must be quiet ! IVyou hear 
me, Mother? You don't know what you're say- 
ing. You've been up too long. You're overdone. 
It's time you went to bed." 

She took her firmly by the arm. But Great-aunt 
struggled with her. 

" I won't. Leave me alone. It's your fault, 
Anita. You sat and listened. You let them talk 
that way about my girl." 

" Now, Mother, what nonsense ! Your girl ! 
Madala's not your daughter." And then, in 
apology — " She's always confusing us. She gets 
these ideas." 

"Not mine? Ah! That's all you know! 
' Anita upstairs? ' That's how she'd come running 
in to me. 'Are you busy, Mrs. Serlc?' Always 
looked in to my room first. Brought me violets. 



Talked. Told me all her troubles. You never 
knew. Not mine, eh ? Didn't I see her married, 
my pretty girl ? ' Hole-and-corner business ! ' 
That's what you tell them? 'Nobody knew.' 
But I knew." 

Anita's hand dropped from her mother's arm. 
She stared at her. 

"You, Mother? You there?" And then, 
angrily, " Oh, I don't believe it." 

" Don't believe it, eh ? But it's true, for all I'm 
lumber in my own house. I'm to go to bed before 
the company comes, before she comes. Don't she 
want to see me then ? Who pinned her veil for her 
and kissed her and blessed her, and took her to 
church, and gave her to him? Not you, my 
daughter. She didn't come to you for that." 
And then, with a slacking and a wail, " Eh, but we 
were never to tell ! " 

-t Mother, you'd better come to bed. I " 

there was the faintest suggestion of menace in her 
voice — " I'll talk to you tomorrow." 

The old woman shrank away. 

' I won't come. I know. You want me out of 
the way. You don't want me to see her. What 
are you going to say about me ? You'll say things 
to her about me. I've heard you." 

Quite obviously Anita restrained herself. 

' Now, Mother, you know } 7 ou don't mean that." 

'Hush!" Great-aunt pulled away her hand. 
" Quiet, child, quiet ! Wasn't that the cab? I've 
l 145 


listened all the evening, all the lon<^ evening." II< r 
old voice thinned and sharpened to a chirp. " Soft, 
soft, the wheels ^o by. The wheels never stop. 
Wait till the wheels stop. It's the fog that's 
keeping her. There's fog everywhere. Maybe sin's 
lost in the fog." Then she chuckled to herself. 
"Naughty girl to be so late. But she's always 
late. Why should I go to bed? I've got to finish 
my knitting, Nita. Only two rows, Nita. They'll 
just last me till she conies." And then, " Anita, 
she will come? " 

Anita turned to the others. 

"Don't be alarmed. It's nothing. I'm afraid 

she hasn't realized ' She began again — " Now, 

Mother ! It's bed-time, Mother dear." 

"'Dear' — 'dear' — why do you speak kindly? 
Madala's not here to listen." And then — "Nita, 
Nita child, let me stay till she comes. " 

Anita was quite patient with her, and quite 

"Now listen, Mother! It's no use waiting. 

Come upstairs with mc. She won't " her voice 

altered, " she can't come tonight." 

Beside me Kent Rehan spoke — 

" I can't stand it," he said. " 1 can't stand it. 
I can't stand it." He didn't seem to know that he 
was speaking. 

But Great-aunt heard his voice if she didn't hear 
the words. She broke away from Anita and went 
shuffling over the iloor towards him with blind 



movements. She would have fallen if he hadn't 
been beside her in an instant, holding her. 

" Kent, d'you hear her ? You know my daughter. 
You know Madala too. You speak to her ! You 
tell her ! Madala always comes, doesn't she ? 
always comes. You tell her that ! I want to 
see Madala. Very good to me, Madala. Brought 
me a bunch of violets." 

Anita followed. 

:t Kent, for goodness' sake, try to help me. She'll 
make herself ill. I shall have her in bed for days. 
Now, Mother Now come, Mother ! " 

Great-aunt clung to his arm. 

" She's not kind. My daughter's very hard on 

For the first time Anita showed signs of agitation. 
She was almost appealing. 

" Kent ! You mustn't believe her. It's not 
fair. You see my position. One has to be firm. 

And you don't know how trying What am I 

to do? Shall I tell her? She's as obstinate— I'll 
never get her to bed. Ought I to tell her ? She'll 
have to be told sooner or later. She'll have to 
realize " 

He said — 

" I'll talk to her if you like." 

Anita looked at him intently. 

"' It's good of you. She has always listened to 
you. Since you and I were children together. Do 
you remember, Kent? Yes, you talk to her." 



1 What's she Baying f" demanded Great-aunt. 
Her old eyes were bright with suspicion. " Talking 

you over, ch? Talk anyone over, my daughter 

will — my clever daughter. So clever. Madala 
tliinks so too. 'Dripping with brains. 1 That's 
what Madala said. Made me laugh. Quite true, 
though. Hasn't Madala come yet?" 

" Now, look here, Mrs. Serle " he put his arm 

round her bent shoulders, " it's very foggy, you 
know, and it's very late. Nobody could travel — 
nobody could come tonight. You'll believe us, 
won't you?" 

"Wait! What's that?" She stood a moment, 
her finger raised, listening intently. Then she 
straightened her bowed body and looked up at him. 
One so seldom saw her face lifted, shone upon by 
any light, that that alone, I suppose, was enough to 
change her. For changed she was — her countenance 
so wise and beaming that I hardly knew her. " Now 
I know," she said, " she will come. Wait for her, 
Kent. She will come. I — I hear her coming. She's 
not so far from us. She's not so far away." 

They stared at each other for a moment, the man 
and the old woman. Then her face dropped for- 
ward again, downward into its accustomed shadow, 
as he said to her — 

" It's too late, Mrs. Serle. She won't come — now. 
Not now any more. And Anita thinks — truly 
you're very tired, aren't you? Now aren't you? ' 

" Very tired," she quavered. 



" I know you are. Won't you let me help you 
upstairs? " 

"And stay a bit?" she said, clutching at him. 
"Stay and talk to me?" 

" Yes, yes," he humoured her. 

" About Madala ? " 

He was very white. 

" About Madala. Anita, take her other arm. 
That's the way." 

They helped her out of the room, and we heard 
their slow progress up the stairs. 

It was the blonde lady who broke the silence 
with her tinkling laugh — 

" Poor dear Nita ! " 

" Kent's a good sort," said Miss Howe. 

"What's Hecuba to him now?" Mr. Flood's 
smile glinted from one to another. 

" A very old friend," said the blonde lady. 
" You heard what dear Nita said to him." 

" ' Children together ! ' I didn't know that." He 
was still smiling. 

" And they always kept in touch," put in Miss 

" Trust Nita for that," said the blonde lady. 

Miss Howe nodded. 

" She told me once that from the first she realized 
that he would do big things." 

" So Nita kept in touch ! " Mr. Flood laughed 

" But it's only the last few years that she's 



been able to produce him at will, like a conjurors 

"Since Madala's advent, you mean,'' said the 
blonde lady. 

" ' Will you walk into my parlour," said Anita to 

the fly. 'It's a literary parlour '" murmured 

Mr. Flood. And then — " No. Kent's not likely to 
have walked in without a honey-pot in the parlour. 
Madala must have been useful." 

" That's what Miss Serle will never forgive her, 
/ think," said the Baxter girl. 


" That she was useful. Uo you believe in the 
other man? " 

" The unknown influence? ' His eyes narrowed. 
" Hm ! " 

" And yet of course there's been someone." The 
Baxter girl never quite deserted Anita, even in her 

The blonde lady nodded. 

"Of course. Nita's always nearly right. The 
influence — the adventures — the manage de convert- 
ance — she's got it all so pat — and the man too. She 
knows well enough ; yet she fights against it. She 
won't have it. I wonder why. ' Very old friends ' 
I suppose." She laughed again. " But of course 
it was Kent. Can't you see that's why Nita hates 
her ? What a Life it will be ! I just long for it to 
come out. Nita's a comedy." 

" A tragedy." 




Nita? My dear Lila ! What do you mean? " 
" I'm only quoting," said Miss Howe. And 
then — " But when she isn't actually annoying me 
I think I agree." 

" Who said it ? " said the Baxter girl inquisitively. 
" Madala. It's the onty thing I've ever heard 
her say of Anita. She never discussed Anita. Now 
of Kent she would talk by the hour. Which proves 
to me, you know, that the affair with him didn't go 
very deep. Nita quoted that description of Kent just 
now, but only so far as it served her. She carefully 
forgot how it goes on. Here, where is it ? Ah 

He brooded like a lover over his colour-box, and as 
she watched him her thoughts flew to her own small 
brothers at home. Geoff with his steam-engine, Jimmy 
sorting stamps — there, there was to be found the same 
ruthlessness of absorption, achieving dignity by its sheer 
intensity. She smiled over him and them. 

" Keep your face still," he ordered. 

She obeyed instantly, flushing; and as she did so she 
thought to herself — ' I could be afraid of that man,' 
but a moment afterwards — ' He is like a small boy.' 

" Now that may be Kent — oh, it is Kent, of course 
— but it's not Madala's attitude to Kent. She was 
not in the least afraid of him." 

" Ah, but that later passage, the country passage 
— that's pure Madala." 

" Yes. Just where it ceases to be Kent — ' He 
stoops, I suppose. He's worn out with work. He's 
quite ordinary.' That's not Kent." 



"No, that's true. One doesn't know where to 
have her. She muddles her trail," said Mr. 

" I call it weakness of touch not to let you know 
whom she drew from," said the Baxter girl. 

" Ah, but she always insisted that she didn't draw 

"Of course. They always do. If one believed 
them one would never get behind the scenea, and if 
one can't get behind the scenes one might as well 
be mere public and read for the story," said the 
Baxter girl indignantly. 

'Well, you know," Miss Howe sat turning over 
the pages of The Resting-place with careful, almost 
with caressing fingers, " I don't believe she meant 
to draw portraits. She had queer, old-fashioned 
notions. I think she would have thought it — 

" The portraits arc there though, if you look 
close enough," insisted the Baxter girl. 

" Yes, but they happened in spite of her. Any- 
one she was fond of she took into her, in a sense : 
and when her gift descended upon her and demanded 
expression, then, all unconsciously, she expressed 
them too. But gilded! We find ourselves in her 
books, and we never knew before how lovable we 
are. You're right, Blanche, she liked whatever she 
looked on. And you're right, too, Jasper, Grande 
amoureuse, she was that. That capacity for loving 
made her what she was. The technical facility was 



her talent and her luck ; but it was her own per- 
sonality that turned it into genius." 

" Then after all you admit the genius," said the 
Baxter girl triumphantly. 

" No. No. No. My judgment says no. When 
I read her books in cold blood — no. But we've 
been talking about her. It's as if she were with us, 
and when she's with us my judgment goes ! That's 
the secret of Madala Grey. She does what she likes 
with us. But the next generation, the people who 
don't know her, whether they'll find in her books 
what we do, is doubtful. Who wants a dried rose ? " 

" Yes, but Miss Serle— in the Life ? Won't she 
— preserve her?" 

" Preserve— exactly ! But not revive. No, I'd 
sooner pin my faith to The Spring Song, although 
I haven't seen it. It ought to be a revelation. She 
eluded Nita, impishly. I've seen her do it. But 
there's no doubt that she gave Kent his chance." 

" Every chance. She'd deny it, I suppose." 

" Oh, she did." Miss Howe laughed. " Have 
you ever seen her in a temper? I have. I was a 
fool. I told her one day (you know how things 
come up) just something of the gossip about Kent 
and her. I thought it only kind. But you should 
have heard her. She was as healthily furious as a 
schoolgirl. That was so comfortable about Madala. 
She hadn't that terrible aloofness of really big 
people. She didn't withdraw into dignity. She 
just stormed." Miss Howe laughed again. " I 


L E (; E n l) 

can sec her now, raging up and down the room — 

'Do you mean to say that people ? I never 

heard of anything so monstrous] What has it 
got to do with them? Why can't they leave 
me alone? I've never done them any harm. I 
wouldn't have believed it, pretending they liked 
me, and letting me be friends with them, and then 
saying hateful things behind my back. I'll never 
speak to them again — never ! That they should go 
about twisting things — Why can't they mind their 
own business ? And dragging in Kent like that ! 
Oh, it does make me so wild ! ' ' Oh, well, my 
dear,' I said to her, ' when two people see as much 
of each other as you and Kent do, there's bound to 
be talk.' At that she swung round on me. ' But 
he's my friend,' she said. 'Yes,' I said, 'that's 
just it.' ' But I'm not expected to marry everyone 
I'm fond of!' 'Arc you fond of him. Madala?' 
I asked her. ' Yes,' she said directly, ' I am. I'm 
awfully fond of him. I'd do anything for him, 
bless his heart ! ' ' Well,' I said, ' you needn't be 
so upset. That's all that people mean. If you're 
fond of him and he — he's obviously in love with 

you ' But at that she caught me up in her 

quick way — 'In love? Oh, you don't understand 
him. Nobody understands Kent. He doesn't 
understand himself. Dear old Kent ! ' Then she 
began walking up and down the room again, but 
more quietly, and talking, half to herself, as if she 
had forgotten I was there, justifying herself, justi- 



fying him. ' Dear old Kent ! Poor old Kent ! 
I'm awfully fond of Kent. So is he of me. But 
not in the right way. He's got, when he happens 
to think of it, a great romantic idea of the woman 
he wants, of the wife he wants ; but the truth is, 
you know, that he doesn't want a wife. He wants 
a mother, and a sister, and a — a lover. A true 
lover. A patienter woman than I am. A 
woman who'll delight in him for his own sake, 
not for what he gives her. A woman who'll put 
him first and be content to come second with 
him. He'll always put his work first. He can't 
help it. He's an artist. Oh, not content. I didn't 
mean that. She must be too big for that— big 
enough to know what she misses. But a wise 
woman, such a loving, hungry woman. ' Half a 
loaf,' she'll say to herself. But she'll never have to 
let him hear. He's chivalrous. He'd be horrified 
at giving her half a loaf. He'd say — ' All or 
nothing ! ' But he couldn't give her all. He 
couldn't spare it. So he'd give her nothing out of 
sheer respect for her. That's Kent. He's got his 
dear queer theories of life — oh, they're all right 
as theories — but he fits people to them, instead 
of them to people. Procrustes. He'd torture a 
woman from the kindest of motives. It's lack of 
imagination. Haven't you noticed ? ' ' Consider- 
ing he's one of the great imaginative artists of the 
day, Madala,' I said to her, ' that's rather sweeping.' 
' But that's why,' she said. ' It's just because he's 


a genius. He lives on himself. In himself. Kent's 

BJI island." 1 said ' N<» eliauer of a bridge, Ma- 
il a la f ' She shook her head. ' Not my job.' I 
said I was sorry. I was, too. It would have been 
so ideal, that pair. I wanted to argue it with her; 
hut she wouldn't listen. She said — ' If I weren't 
an artist too, then maybe — maybe. I'm very fond 
of Kent. But no — I'd want too much. But, you 
know, there's a woman somewhere, rather like me 
— I hope he'll marry her. I'd love her. She'd 
never be jealous of me. She'd understand. She's 
me without the writing, without the outlet. She'll 
pour it all into loving him. I hope she's alive some- 
where. He'd be awfully happy. And if he had 
children— that's what he needs. I can just see 
him with children. But not my children. If I 

married ' And then she flushed up to the eyes 

in that way she had, as if she were fifteen. ' I — I'd 
like to be married for myself, for my faults, for the 
bits I don't tell anyone. Kent would hate my 
faults. I'd have to hide my realest self.' She stood 
staring out of the window. Then she said, still in 
that rueful, childish voice — 'I would like to be 
liked.' ' But, my dear girl,' said I, ' what nonsense 

you talk ! If ever a woman had friends ' She 

(lung round at me again — ' If I'd not written Eden 
IV alls would Anita have looked at me — or any of 
you?' I said ' That's not a fair question. Your 
books are you, the quintessence, the very best of 
you.' ' But the rest of me ? ' she said, ' but the 



rest of me ? ' I laughed at her. ' Well, what 
about the rest of you ? ' Then she said, in a small 
voice — -' It feels rather out of it sometimes, Lila.' : 

" I say," Mr. Flood twinkled at her, " are you 
going to present all this to Anita? She'd be 

" Not she," said Miss Howe sharply. " Too much 
fact would spoil her theory. Let her spin her own 

" Agreed. There's room for more than one 
biography, eh ? " They laughed together a little 

" You know," the blonde lady recalled them, 
" she must have been quite a good actress. She 
always seemed perfectly contented." 

" Imagine Madala Grey discontented," said the 
Baxter girl. "How could she be?" 

" Oh, Kent was at the root of that," said Miss 
Howe, " for all her talk." 

Mr. Flood nodded. 

" Yes, the lady did protest too much, if your 
report's correct." 

" It's the only explanation and, as you said, 
Blanche, in her heart Anita knows it. After all, 
he's a somebody. Madala wouldn't be the only 
one who's found him attractive, eh? " She cocked 
an eyebrow. 

"Don't be scandalous, Lila," said the blonde 
lady virtuously ; and Mr. Flood gave his little sniff 
of enjoyment. 



"Oh, give mc five minutes," said Miss Howe 
cosily. "She'll he down in five minutes. I've 
been good all the evening. But I'm inclined to 
agree with her, you know, that Madala was attracted, 
just because Madala denied it so vehemently. Only 
Anita goes too far for me. She's right, of course, 
when she says of Kent — ' Not a marrying man ! ' 
hut not in the way she means it. There are dark 
and awful things in the history of every unmarried 
man, to Anita. She scents intrigue everywhere. 
I'm a spinster myself, but I'm not such a spidery 
spinster. She may be partly right. Some other 
man, some question-mark of a man, may have 
treated Madala badly. But Kent didn't. Kent isn't 
that sort. Intrigue would bore him. Still, he 
wasn't a marrying man in those days, and 1 think 
Madala was perfectly honest when she said — 'Just 
friends.' But I think also, if you ask me, that they 
were far too good friends. It's not wise to be friends 
with a man. You must be a woman first and let 
him know it. I don't believe in these platonic 
friendships. So I think that in time Madala found 
out where they were making the mistake. And 
he didn't, or wouldn't. Oh well ! :: she paused 
expressively, " he's finding it out now. He has 
been all the year. Didn't you see his face when he 
came in tonight? Madala shouldn't have hurried. 
Poor Madala ! Though I don't think it broke her 
heart, you know." 

"No." The blonde lady nodded. " She was too 



serene, too placid, for real passion. She could draw 
it well enough, but always from the outside." \ 

" Oh, I don't think so," said the Baxter girl. 
" Think of the end of Ploughed Fields." 

" Let's give her some credit for imagination, even 
if we don't say ' genius ' ! I agree with Blanche. 
Oh, perhaps her heart did crack just a little " 

The blonde lady struck in — 

" But then Carey's a doctor. So convenient ! :: 

" Yes," said Mr. Flood. " I always said he caught 
her on the rebound." 

"And then, to mix metaphors, the fat was in 
the fire. Then, Kent woke up to her. Isn't it 
obvious? He was fond of Madala Grey, but it 
was Mrs. Carey that he fell in love with. Just like 
a man ! " 

"Oh, I hate you," said Mr. Flood. "You 
destroy my illusions. I'm like Anita. I demand 
the tragic Madala." 

" You can have her, I should think," said the 
Baxter girl thoughtfully. " Oh, of course your 
theory does seem probable as far as it goes, Miss 
Howe, but " 

" But what? " said Miss Howe. 

" Well, she hardly ever came to town afterwards, 
did she?" 

" Ah, Madala was always wise," said the blonde 

Mr. Flood rubbed his hands. 

" Thank-you, Beryl. We're in sympathy. And 


its quite a satisfying, tragical picture, isn't it? 

The two artists — he with his lay figure and she with 
hex Hodge, and the long year between them. Can't 
you see them, cheated, desirous, stretching out to 
each other their impotent hands? One could make 
something out of that." 

" You could, Mr. Flood," said the Baxter girl 

"Out of what?" Anita was always noiseless. 
I jumped to hear her voice so close behind me. 

Miss Howe looked up at her quizzingly. 

"Madala and— Where is Kent?" 

" With Mother still. He's managed her extra- 
ordinarily. She's getting sleepy, thank goodness ! 
He'll be down in a minute." Then, with a change 
of tone— "Madala and Kent? I think not, Lila 

"But you said yourself " the Baxter girl 


" Oh no ! I flung it out — a suggestion— a possi- 
bility. I haven't committed myself— yet. I wish 
I could be sure of Kent. He's upset my conception 
of him tonight. I should have said— seliish. 
Especially over Madala. But all men ore selfish. 

Yet, tonight " she hesitated, playing with the 

papers that lay half in, half out of the open desk. 
"But who was it, if it wasn't Kent? Because 

there was someone, you know And then, as 

if Miss Howe's smile annoyed her beyond prud< nee 
—"Do you think I'm inventing? Do you think 



I've talked for amusement's sake? I tell you, she 
was on the verge of an elopement. Without 
benefit of clergy ! " 

" Anita ! " Miss Howe half rose from her chair. 

"We're getting it at last." Mr. Flood addressed 
the room. " I knew she had something up her 

" I don't believe — I won't believe it," said Miss 

Then Anita smiled. 

" Didn't I say she was careless about her drafts ? 
I've a fragment here— no, I've left it in my writing- 
table " and she rose as she spoke — " no name, 

but it's proof enough. It's an answer to some 
man's letter." 

"But does she definitely consent ?" began 

the Baxter girl. 

" Not in so many words. But it's obvious there 
was some cause or impediment, and he, whoever 
he is, has evidently had qualms of conscience about 
letting her call the world well lost for his sweet 

' That would rule out Kent, of course," said 
Miss Howe thoughtfully. " There was no reason 
why Kent shouldn't marry." 

' We know of none," said Anita in her suggestive 
voice. " Isn't that as much as one can say of any 

" Ah ! " said the Baxter girl, illuminated. I 
don't know why — her round eyes, I suppose, and 
M 161 


her pursed mouth — hut she reminded me of the 
woodcut of Minerva's owl in Lar0U88e. 

"So you see my prime difficulty. I've passed 
under re\ irw every man of her acquaintance, till I 

narrowed down the possible " 

"Affinities," said the hlonde lady. 

" — to Kent Rehan, John Carey, and this 
probable hut unknown third. There I hang fire. 
Until I make up my mind on which of the three her 
love story hinges, I can't do more than trifle with 
the Life. And how shall I make up my mind ? " 

"Three?" said Mr. Flood. "Two. You can 
eliminate the husband. He's fifth act, not third." 

" Yes, of course. But I never jump a step. 
Which leaves me the unknown — or Kent." 

The blonde lady leant forward rather eagerly — 

" Nita ! Where's that letter ? " 

" I'll get it." She went across the room to her 

The Baxter girl twisted her head. 

" I say ! He's coming down the stairs." 

" If she read aloud that draft " the blonde 

lady's drawl had disappeared. She glittered like 
an excited schoolgirl — " he might recognize " 


You mean ?' Mr. Flood raised his eye- 
brows but Anita, fumbling with her keys, did not 

"It would be nice to be sure," said the blonde lady. 
"It's rather cruel, isn't it?" said Miss Howe 



"Why? It'll be printed in the Life. Besides, 
it may not have been written to him." 

" That's why," said Miss Howe. 

" It would be nice to be quite sure," said the 
blonde lady again. And as she spoke Kent Rehan 
came into the room. 

At once I got up, with some blind, blundering 
idea, I believe, of stopping him, of frustrating them, 
but Anita was nearer to him than I. 

"Is she asleep? Very good of you, Kent. Sit 
here, Kent. Jenny, is the window open in the 
passage? Very cold. I never knew such a 

I went out to see. I had to do as I was told. 
Besides, how could I have stopped them or him? 
Yet I was shaking with anger and disgust at them, 
and at myself for my hateful tongue-tied youth 
and insignificance. An older woman would have 
known what to do. Shaking with cold too — Anita 
was right — it was bitter cold in the passage. I 
could hardly see my way to the window for the fog. 
It was open an inch at the bottom, and at my 
touch it rattled down with a bang that echoed 
oddly. For an instant I thought it was a knock at 
the hall door. I stood a minute, quite startled, 
peering down into the black well of the hall. But 
there was no second knock, only the fog-laden 
draught of the passage came rushing up at me again, 
and again Anita called to me to come in and shut 
the door. I did so : and because it rattled, wedged 



it with the screw of paper that lay near it on tin 
(loor, the crumpled telegram thai Ken! Rehan had 
dropped when he first came in. Then, still shivering 
a little, I sat down where 1 was. I didn't want to 
go nearer. I knew my fact- was tell-tale. I didnM 
want to have the Baxter girl looking at me, and 
maybe saying something. 1 could hear them in the 
other room well enough. Anita's voice seemed to 
cut through the thick air. There was a Letter in 
her hand. She was twisting it about as it' she 
couldn't find the first page. 

" — obviously a draft." She held it away from 
her. Anita was long-sighted. 

" Dear— dear 

Then it breaks off and begins again. You see? 
She displayed it to them. 

" Dearest- 

11 Why, how clearly it's written ! ' The Baxter 
girl peered at it. " That's quite a beautiful hand. 
That's not Madala's scrawl." 

The blonde lady looked at them through half 
shut lids. 

" Ah ! It's been written slowly " 

"As if she loved writing it ! " The Baxter girl 
flushed. " Did she know about that sort of thing 
— that sentimental sort of thing? I should have 
thought her too — oh, too splendid, removed — you 
know what I mean." 



" I don't suppose she talked about it," said 
Anita coldly. " She was not of your generation." 
And then, to the others — " I assure you, this letter 
shook me. Even I never dreamed of this side of 
her. Listen." She read aloud in her measured 
voice — 

" Dearest — 

I wanted your letter so I reckoned out the 
posts, and the distances, and your busyness. I thought 
that in two days you would probably write, and then I 
gave you another day's grace because you hate writing 
letters, and because I thought you couldn't dream how 
much I missed you — how much, how soon, I wanted 
to hear. And then to get your letter the very next 
day, before I could begin to look for it (but I did 
look !). Why, you must have written as soon as the 
train was out of the station ! You missed me just as 
much then ? 

But it's a mad letter, you know. It makes me laugh 
and cry. It's so sensible — and so silly. ' Fame ', 
' career ', ' reputation ', ' position ' — why do you fling 
these words at me ? / am making a sacrifice ? Darling, 
haven't you eyes ? Don't you understand that you're 
my world ? All these other things, since I've known 
you, they're shadows, they're toys, I don't want them. 
The reviews of my new book — I've never been so 
delighted at getting any — but why ? D'you know why ? 
To show them to you — to watch you shake with laughter 
as you read them. When a flattering letter turns up, 
I save it to show you as if it were gold, because I think — 
' Perhaps it'll make him think more of me.' Isn't it 
idiotic ? But I do. And all the while I glory in the 
knowledge that all these things, all the fuss and fame, 


I. EG E N D 

don't moan a brass button to you — or to mo, my <!<'ar, 
or to me. 

Ami Mt you write a Bolemn letter about ' making 

a sacrifice,' 'abdicating a position.' 

Don't be — humble. And yet I like you in this mood. 
Because it won't last ! I won't let it. It's I who am 
not good enough. If you knew how I tip-toe some- 
times. You're so much bigger than I am. I lie in 
bed at nights, and all the things I've done wrong in 
my life, all the twisty, tort nuns, feminine things, all 
the lies and cowardices and conceits, come And sting 
me. I'm so bitterly ashamed of them. I feel I've got 
to tell you about them all, and yet that if I do you'll 
turn me out of your heart. If you did that — if you 
were disappointed — if you got tired of me — it turns me 
sick with fear. 

I'm a fool to tear myself. I know you love me. 
And when you're with me I forget all that. I'm ju>t 
happy. When you're there it's like being in the blazing 
sunshine. Can 'celebrity' give me that Btmshu 
Can ' literature ' till my emptiness ? Axe the books I 
write children to love me with your eyes ? Oh, you 
fool ! 

Oh, of course, I know you don't mean it. It's just 
that you think you ought to protest. But suppos. I 
took you at your word ? Suppose I said that, on careful 
consideration, I felt that I wanted to lead my own life 
instead of yours? that — how does the list run? — my 
Work, my Circle of Friends, my Career, were too much 
to give up for — you? What would you say — no, do? 
for even I, (and the sun's in my eyes) even I can't call 
you eloquent ! But what would you do if I wouldn't 
come to you ? 

Oh, my darling, my darling, you needn't be afraid. 

I'd rather be a door-keeper in the house of my God 

I'm changed. What have you done to me ? Other 



people notice it. My friends are grown critical of me. 
Only yesterday someone (no-one you know) sneered at 
me — ' In love ? Oh well, you'll get over it. It's a 
phase.' You know, they don't understand. I'm not 
' in love ', but I love you. There's the difference. I 

love you. I shall love you till I die. Till ? As if 

death could blot you out for me ! I u=;ed to believe 
in death. I used to believe it ended everything. But 
now, since I've known you, I can never die. You've 
poured into me an immortal spirit " 

" Go on," breathed the Baxter girl. 

" It breaks off there. It's not signed. It was 
never sent." 

" She had that much wisdom, then." The 
blonde lady's laughter came to us over Mr. Flood's 
shoulder. " That's not the letter to send to any 
man. Giving herself away — giving us all away " 

"To any man? To what man? There's the 
point. You see the importance. It's the heart of 
the secret. Who is it? For whom was she ready 
to give up, in her own words, name, friends, 
career ? " 

" Well, practically she did that, didn't she, when 
she married Care} 7 ? She buried herself in the 
country. She didn't write a line. You said your- 
self that she put her career behind her. Why 
shouldn't it be written to Carey?" 

" Oh, don't be absurd. It's Carey that makes 
it impossible. How could Carey have written a 
letter needing such an answer? Little he cared. 
What was her genius to him? Isn't it obvious, 


L K (; E N 1 ) 

isn't it plain as print, that (any happened, Carey 
and all he stands for, after the writing of this let t it 
Ixcansc of some hitch? Why wasn't the letter 
Bent? What happened? What folly? What mis- 

understanding ? What disillusionment? What 
realization of danger?- to send her, with that letter 
half written, into Carey's arms? Carey, that stick, 
that ordinary man! And on the top of it The 
I i csting-placc comes out. the cri du cceur — or, if 
you like, Lila, the satire— (for I'm beginning to 
believe you're right) the satire of The Resting- place. 
I tell you, I smell tragedy." 

" It's supposition, it's mere supposition." said 
Miss Howe impatiently. 

" Isn't all detective work supposition to begin 
with? Wait till I've made my book. Wait till 
I've sifted my evidence, till I've ranged it, stick 
and brick, step by step, up, up, up, to the letter." 

Suddenly from where he sat, half way between 
me and them, Kent spoke — 

" Anita, you can't publish that letter." 

Her face, all their faces, turned towards us. She 

"Why not?" And then— " Why do you sit 
out there? Come here. Come into the light." 

He did not stir. 

She frowned, puckering her eyes. 

" Such a fog," she said fretfully. " I can't see 
you. Can't you keep that door shut, Jenny?" 
Then— "Well, Kent— why not? Why not?" 



He said slowly — 

" It's not decent." 

She flared at once. 

" Decent ! Not decent ! What on earth do you 
mean ? " 

He kept her waiting while he thought it out. 

" I mean — it's not right, it's not fair. To whom- 
ever it was written, that's her business, not our 

business. And that letter It's vile, anyway, 

publishing her letters." 

She stared at him in a sort of angry bewilderment. 

"But why? I shall write her life. One always 
does print letters." 

" Not that sort of letter," he said. 

" But don't you see," she cried, " that that letter, 
just that letter " 

He said — 

" That's why. How dare you read that letter 
here — aloud — tonight? It — it's ghoulish." 

" Kent ! " There was outrage in her voice. 

" But Kent " Miss Howe intervened — " we 

knew her — we care — it's in all reverence " 

And Mr. Flood — 

" My dear man, she's not a private character. 
The lives that will be written ! Anita's may be the 
classic, but it won't be the only one. Letters are 
bound to be printed — every scrap she ever wrote. 
Nobody can stop it. It's only a question of time. 
The public has its rights." 

"To what?" He turned savagely. "You've 



had her books. Sin's given enough. Will yo\i 
leave her nothing private, nothing sacred?" 

■ I'.i.i Cent, can't you see " Anita had an 

air of pushing Miss Howe and Mr. Flood from h<r 

road "aren't yon artist enough !«• sec ? A 

writer, a woman like Mad.ila. she has no private 
life. She lives to write. She lives what she writes. 
She is what she writes. She gives her soul to the 
world. She leaves her riddle to be read. Don't 
you see? to be read. That's what I'm doing. 
That's what I'm going to do — read her — for the 
rest of you, for the public. Because — because they 
care, because we all care. It's done in all honour. 
It's a tribute. And for what I am going to do, such 
a letter is the key." 

She spoke softly, sweetly, persuasively. She 
wooed him to agree with her. She was extra- 
ordinarily eager for his approval. And the approval 
of the others she did win. They were all murmuring 

His eyes strayed over them, undecidedly, seeking 
— not help. I do not know what he sought, but 
his eyes found mine. 

" You " he said to me — " would you want 

your letter ?" 

Anita's voice thrust in sharply. In the instant 
the pleading, the beauty, the woman, was gone 
from it. It was cold and shrill. 

" Jenny's views can hardly concern us." 

But he did not listen to her. He had drawn 



some answer from me that satisfied him. He 
got up. 

" Oh," I cried beneath my breath, and I think I 
touched his arm — "you won't let her?" 

He shook his head. Then he went across to 
where Anita stood, her eyes on him, on me, while 
she listened to Miss Howe whispering at her 

" Look here, Anita ! " he began. 

" I'm looking," she said. 

He checked a moment, puzzled. Then he went 
on — 

" That letter — you can't print it. You've no 
right. It's not your property." 

She waved it aside. 

" I shall be literary executor. She promised. 
It's mine if it's anyone's. It's no good, Kent, it 
goes into the book. Nothing can alter that. 
Nothing " 

Then she stopped dead. There was that same 
odd look in her eye as there had been when she 
watched us — that flicker of curiosity, and behind it 
the same gleam of inexplicable anger. 

" Look here " she said very deliberately — 

" look you here — what has it got to do with 

It was not the words, it was the tone. It was 
shameless. It was as if she had cried aloud her 
hateful questions — ' Did you love her ? ' ' What 
was there between you ? ' 'I want to know it all. 



It tears mo not to know.' lint what she said to 
him. and before lie could answer, was — 

" If, of course — anyone— had any right — could 

prove any right " She broke off, watching him 

closely. But he s;iid nothing. ' If," she said, and 
poked with her finger, "if that letter— if yon 
n cognized it- — if that were the rough draft of a 
letter that had been sent " 

He stared down at her. His face was bleak. 

" You'll get no copy from me, Anita ! " 

" Oh ! " She caught her bivat h. fierce and wicked 
as a cat with a bird, yet shrinking as a cat does, 
supple, ears flat. " I only meant — I said right. 
If anyone — if you could satisfy me — if you have 
any right " 

He said — 

" I have no right." 

" Oh well, then ! ' She shrugged her shoulders. 

" But," he held stubbornly to his purpose, 
" whoever has a right to it — you can't print that 

She laughed at him. 

" You'll see ! You'll see ! " 

" Yes," he said, " I'll see." 

They held each other's eyes, angry, angry. I 
felt how Kent Rehan loathed her. And she — yes, 
she must have hated him. She was all bitterness 
and triumph and defiance. Yet all the time I was 
wanting to catch him by the arm and say — ' Be 
kind to her. Say something kind and she'll give 



in.' I knew it. He had only to say in that instant 

— ' Anita, I beg of you ' and she would have 

given him the letter. I knew it. I know it. I 
don't know how I knew it, but I was sure. But he 
was a man : of course he saw nothing. He was 
very angry. He looked big and fine. I wondered 
that she could stand outfacing him. 

But she, for answer, picked up the letter, and 
affected to search through it. 

"Had I finished? Where was I? Ah, yes — 
' An immortal spirit ' " 

His hand came down heavily and swept the light 
table aside. 

" You can't do it. You shan't do it. By God 
you shan't." 

How it happened I couldn't see. He was too 
quick. But at one moment she held the letter, and 
in the next he had it, and was kneeling at the 
grate, while she cried out — 

" Kent ! " And then—" Lila ! Jasper ! Stop 
him ! " 

Nobody could have stopped him. There was no 
flame, but the fire still burned, a caked red and 
black lump, smouldering on cinders. He picked it 
up — with his naked hands — thrust in the crumpled 
stiff paper, and smashed it down again, so that the 
lump split, and still held it pressed down, with 
naked hands, till the sheet had charred and shrivelled 
into nothing. I suppose it all happened in a few 
seconds, but it seemed like hours. I was in a train 


L E G E N 1) 

smash once : I wasn't hurt ; but 1 remember I 
CAHie out of it with just the same sense of being 
battered and aged. This scene I had only watched : 
I had not shared in it : I was still in the little outer 
room. Yet I was shaken. I heard Mr. Flood call 
Out — "Kent, you ent/\ fool I ' I heard Anita — 
"Let me go, Lilu ! " And then the women Were 
between me and him, and I could only sec their 
hacks, and there w;is a babel of voices, and I found 
myself sitting like a fool, clutching at the arms of 
my chair, and saying over and over again — " Oh, 
his hands, his hands, his poor hands ! ' The tears 
were running down my cheeks. 

But nobody noticed me. They were all too busy. 
The group had shifted a little. The Baxter girl 
was edged out of it, and I watched her for a moment 
as she sat down again, her cheeks flaming, her e\es 
as bright as wet pebbles. She looked — it's the 
only word — consumptive with excitement. Every 
now and then she tried not to cough. I heard 
her saying — " It's the fog, it's the awful fog ! ' 
defensively. But nobody listened. They were all 
watching Anita. 

Anita was dreadful. She was tremulous with 
anger. She was like a pendulum with the check 
taken away. Her whole body shook. She couldn't 
linish her sentences. She talked to everyone at 

Miss Howe had her by the arm. Miss Howe was 
trying to quiet her — 



" My dear woman — steady now ! You don't 
want a row, you know ! You've got the rest of the 
papers." But she might have talked to the wind. 

" He comes into my house — my property — in my 

own house It's an outrage ! Kent, it's an 

outrage ! " 

Kent Rehan rose to his feet. It was like a rock 
breaking through that froth of women. He stood 
a moment, nervously, brushing the black from his 
hands and wincing as he did so. Then he looked up. 
His eyes met hers. He flushed. 

" Kent ! Kent ! " She flung off Miss Howe. 

The intensity of reproach in her voice startled me, 
and I think it startled him. I found myself thinking 
— ' All this anger for what ? for a burnt paper ? It's 
impossible ! But then — then what's the matter 
with her ? ' 

He said awkwardly — 

" I'm sorry, Anita." 

" You! " she cried panting — " You, to interfere ! 
D'you know what you've done, what you've tried 
to do ? Will you take everything, you and he ? 
Haven't I my work too ? Oh, what you've had from 
her, what you've had from her ! And now you cheat 

He was bewildered. He said again — 

" I'm sorry, Anita." 

She came close to him. Her little hands were 
clenched. There was a w r ail in her voice — 

"You! Aren't you friends with me? Didn't I 


LEG EX 1) 

share her with you ? Isn't she my work too ? What 
would \ou say if I came l<> \our house and saw your 
work, your life work that she'd made possible, your 

pictures thai are her, all her- and slashed them with 

a knife? What would you do if I'd done that, if 

I'll cut it to ribbons, your Spring Song?** 

That moved him. I saw a sort of comprehension 
lighting his Stubborn face. The artist in her touched 
the artist in him. Of what lay behind the artist 
he had no knowledge. But he said, quite humbly — 

" Anita, I'm sorry ! " 

Yet I knew that he was not sorry for what he had 

" Sorry ! Sorry ! Much good your sorrow 
does ! " she shrilled, and I saw him stiffen again. 
She was strange. She valued him, that was so plain, 
and yet, it almost seemed in self-defence, she was 
always at her worst with him. " Sorry ! It was 
the key of the book. You've spoilt my book.'" 

** Xita ! Xita! One letter!" Miss Howe was 
almost comical in her dislike of the scene. " As if 
you couldn't pull it off without that." She pulled 
her aside, lowering her voice— " Nita. what's the 
use of a row ? Pull yourself together. Put yourself 

in his place. Besides — you can't afford " She 

looked at Kent significantly. Anita's pale glance 
followed her and so their eyes met again. She was 
angry and sullen and irresolute. Another woman 
would have been near tears. 

" Kent," she began. And then — " Kent — if we 



quarrel We're too old to quarrel If you had 

a shadow of excuse " 

He waited. 

She took fire again because he did not meet her 
half way. 

" But if you think you've stopped me " she 

cried. She broke off with a laugh and a new idea — 
"As if," she said slowly and scornfully, " as if 
Madala would have cared ! " 

He said distinctly — 

" You didn't know her. You'd never under- 
stand " 

" Ah," she said, pressing forward to him, " why 
do you take that tone ? What is it I don't under- 
stand ? If you'd help me with what you know, it 
could be big stuff. I'd forgive you for the letter if 
you'd work with me." She hung on his answer. 

But he only said, not looking at her, in the same 
tone — 

" You'd never understand." And then, with an 
effort—" I'll go, Anita. I'm going. I'd better go." 

Without waiting for her answer he went across 
the room to the little sofa near me where the hats 
and coats lay piled. I heard him fumbling for his 

But Anita went back to the others. The watching 
group seemed to open to receive, to enclose her. Her 
head had touched the lamp as she passed under it, 
and set it swaying wildly, so that I could scarcely 
see their faces in that shift of light and shadow 
n 177 


through !h< thickened air. Hut I heard her angry 
laugh, and hex voice overtopping the murmur — 
" Mad ! He was always mad ! If he weren't such 

an old friend " And then the Baxter girl's 

voice — " Think of the sketches there must be!' 
And Miss Howe — " Wha1 I say is you don't want 
to quarrel!" And hers again — "Did you hear 
him? 1 not understand Rfadala ! Mad, I tell you ! 
If I don't know Madala " 

It was at that moment that I looked up and saw a 
woman standing in the doorway. 

"Anita!*' I murmured warningly. lint my 
voice did not reach her, and indeed, she and the 
little gesticulating group in the further room seemed 
suddenly far away. The air had been thickening for 
the last hour, and now, with the opening of the door, 
the fog itself came billowing in on either side of the 
newcomer as water streams past a ship. It flooded 
the room, soundlessly, almost, 1 remember thinking, 
purposefully, as if it would have islanded us, Kent 
and me. It affected me curiously. I felt muffled. 
I knew I ought to get up and call again to Anita 
or attend to the visitor myself, but the quiet seemed 
to dull my wits. I found myself placidly wondering 
who she was and why she did not come in ; but I 
made no movement to welcome her. I just sat still 
and stared. 

She was a tall girl — woman — for either word 
fitted her: she had brown hair. She was dressed 
in — I should have said, if you had iskcd me, that 



1 could remember every detail, and I can in my own 
mind ; but when 1 try to write it down, it blurs. But 
I know that there was blue in her dress, and bright 
colours. It must have been some flowered stuff. 
She looked — it's a silly phrase — but she looked like 
a spring day. I wanted her to come into the room 
and drive away the fog that was making me blink 
and feel dizzy. There was a gold ring on her finger : 
yes, and her hands were beautiful — strong, white 
hands. In one she held the brass candle-stick that 
stood in the hall, and with the other she sheltered 
the weak flame from the draught. Yet not only 
with her hand. Her arm was crooked maternally, 
her shoulder thrust forward, her hip raised, in a 
gesture magnificently protecting, as though the new- 
lit tallow-end were fire from heaven. Her whole 
body seemed sacredly involved in an act of guardian- 
ship. But half the glory of her pose — and it was 
lovely enough to make me catch my breath — was its 
unconsciousness; for her attention was all ours. 
Her eyes, as she listened to the group by the hearth, 
were sparkling with amusement and that tolerant, 
deep affection that one keeps for certain dearest, 
foolish friends. It was evident that she knew them 

"Can't you keep that door shut, Jenny? The 
draught " 

Anita's back was towards me. Her voice, as she 
spoke over her shoulder, rang high, muffled, injurious, 
and — I laughed. In a flash the stranger's eyes were 
N 2 179 


on me, and I found myself thrilling where I sat, 
absurdly startled for the moment, because- sin 

knew me too ! She knew me quite well. She was 
smiling at me, not vaguely as who should sa\ 
'Oh. surely I've seen you somewhere?' but with 
intimate, disturbing knowledge. It was the glance 
that a doetor gives you, the swift, acquainted glance 
that, without offence, deciphers you. I was no1 
offended either, only curious and — attracted. She 
looked so friendly. 1 half began to say — ' But when f 
but where ? ' but her bearing overruled me. Her 
mouth was pursed conspiratorial!)' : if her hand had 
been free she would have put a finger to her lip. I 
smiled back at her, llattcred to be partner in her un- 
comprehcnded secret. But I was curious — oh, I was 
curious ! It was incredible to me that Anita and 
the rest should stand, subduing their voices to the 
soft, thick stillness that she and the fog between them 
had brought into the room, and yet remain uncon- 
scious of her vivid presence. I was longing to see 
their faces when they should at last turn and see her, 
and yet, if you understand, I was afraid lest they 
should turn too soon and break the pleasant numb- 
ness that was upon me. And upon them — the 
spell was upon them too. It was the look in her 
eyes, not glamorous, but kind. It healed. It 
passed like a drowse across the squabblers at the 
table : it stilled Anita's feverish monologue. Indeed 
the room had grown very still. There was no sound 
left in it but the slurring of the lamp. It rested 



upon Kent as be stood in dumb misery, and I 
watched the strained lines of his body slacken and 
grow easier beneath it. At that — at that ease she 
gave him — suddenly I loved her. 

And as if I had spoken, as if I had touched her with 
my hand, her eyes, that had grown heavy with his 
trouble, turned, brightening, upon me, as if I were 
the answer to a problem, the lifting of a care. But 
what the problem was I could not then tell; for, 
staring as she made me — as she made me — into her 
divining eyes, I saw in them not her thought but my 
own at last made clear to me — my dream, my hope, 
my will and my desire, new-born and naked, and, I 
swear it, bodiless to me before that night and that 
hour. It was too soon. I was not ready. It 
shamed me and I flinched, my glance wandering 
helplessly away like a dog's when you have forced 
it to look at you. And so noticed, idly, uncompre- 
hending at first, and then with a stiffening of my 
whole body, that her hand did not show as other 
hands, blood-red against the light she screened, 
but coldly luminous, like the fingers of a cloud 
through which the moon is shining : and that 
her breast was motionless, unstirred by any 

Then I was afraid. 

I felt my skin rising. I felt my bones grow cold. 
I could not move. I could not breathe. I could 
not think. 

A voice came out of the fog that had thickened to 


L E G E N D 

.1 wall between the rooms — a voice, thin, remote, 

like .'i trunk call — 

"Can't you keep that door shut, Jenny? The 

draught " and was cut off again by th<- Budden 

crash of an overturned chair. There was a rush and 
a cry — a madman's voice, shouting, screaming, 
groaning — 

" Madala Grey ! My God, Madala Grey ! '" and 
Kent's huge body, hurling against the door, pitched 
and fell heavily. 

For the door was shut. 

I ran to him. He was shaken and half stunned, 
but he struggled to his feet. It was dreadful to sec 
him. He was like a frightened horse, shivering and 
sweating. His lips were loose and he muttei 
unevenly as if the words came without his will. I 
caught them as I helped him; the same words — 
always the same words. 

I got him to the sofa while the rest of them crowded 
and clamoured, and then I found myself taking com- 
mand. I made them keep off. I sent Anita for 
water and a towel and I bathed his forehead where 
he had cut it on the moulding of the door. Mr. 
Flood wanted to send for a doctor, but I wouldn't 
have it. I knew how he would hate it. Then 
someone — the Baxter girl, I think — giggled hysteric- 
ally and said something about a black eye tomorrow, 
and then — " How did it happen ? " " Did you see, 
Miss Summer?' And at that they all began to 
clamour again like an orchestra after a solo, repeating 



in all their voices — " Yes, what happened ? What 
on earth was it ? Did you see him ? Some sort of a 
seizure ? I told you twice to shut that door. The 

draught Are you better now, old man ? Kent 

— what happened ? " 

They were crowding round him again. He pointed 
a shaking finger. 

" She saw," he said. " She knows " 

"Jenny?" Anita turned on me sharply, an 
employer addressing a servant at fault. " Oh, of 
course — you were in here too. What happened 

I had a helpless moment. 

" Well ? " she demanded. 

I stared at her. It was incredible, but there was 
actually jealousy in her voice. It said, pitifully 
plainly — ' Again I have missed the centre of a 
situation ! ' 

"Well?" she repeated. And then— " If you 

saw something " She altered the phrase — " Tell 

us what you saw." 

But I had not missed the quick fear that had 
shown, for a moment, in Kent's eyes — fear of be- 
trayal even while his tongue was betraying him. 

I laughed. I thought to myself as I answered, 
' Oh, I am doing this beautifully ! ' And I was. 
My voice sounded perfectly natural, not a bit high. 
I had plenty of words. I said, most jauntily — 

" Oh, Cousin Nita, I could hardly see my own nose. 
The fog had been simply pouring in. My fault — I 



didn't latch the door properly, I suppose. And then 
you called, and Mr. Kchan went to shut it for me, 
and he slithered on the mat, and " 

" I see ! " 

"Of course! Parquet The Baxter girl 

took a step or two and pirouetted back to us. ' Per- 
fect ! You ought to give a dance, Miss Serle." 

Anita made no answer, but taking the can and tin 
towel she opened the door of dispute, and, stooping 
an instant on the threshold to lift some small object 
from the floor, went out of the room. We heard her 
set down her load on the landing, and the rattle of 
the sash as she threw up the window, paused, and 
shut it again. She came back. A fresh inflow of 
acrid vapour preceded her and set us coughing. 
It was the stooping, I suppose, that had reddened her 
cheeks, for she was flushed when she came back to us. 
It was the only time that I ever saw my cousin with 
a colour. She spoke to us, a little gaspingly, as if the 
fog had caught her too by the throat — 

"Jenny's quite right. One can't see an inch in 
front of one. No — not a cab in hearing. You'll 
have to resign yourselves to staying on indefinitely. 
What ? oh, what nonsense, Kent ! As if I'd let you 
go in that state ! Besides, there's Jasper's poem. 
Are you going away without hearing it ? ' The soft 
monologue continued as she shepherded them to the 
fire. " That's always the way — one talks — one gets 
no work done. Get under the light, Jasper ! Beryl, 
help me to move the table. Oh yes, Jasper, I forgot 



to tell you, I met Roy Huth the other day and he had 
just read " 

I heard a movement behind me. I turned. Kent 
had half risen. He spoke — 

" Sit down. Sit down here." He touched the 
cushion beside him. 

I shook my head. 

•' Not yet. My cousin " 

" Ah " 

We were silent. 

I watched Anita. She stood a few moments in 
unsmiling superintendence, while the women settled 
themselves and Mr. Flood sorted his papers and 
cleared his throat. Then, as I had known she would 
do, she returned soft-footed to her purpose. At the 
same moment I left Kent Rehan's side. When she 
reached the archway between the two rooms, I was 

" And now " she confronted me — " what 

happened? " 

" I told you." 

She smiled. 

"Did you? I have forgotten. Tell me again." 

" Anita — he slipped. He fell. He was shutting 
the door." 

"Did he replace this?" She opened her little 
hand. The wedge of paper that I had twisted lay 
on her palm. " It was shut in the door when I 
opened it just now." She waited a moment. Then, 
with a certain triumph — "Well? 



L EG E N I) 
I said nothing. What was then to say? 

She tossed it from her. 

"Don't he silly. Jenny I \N' iras it? Who it ? ' Her c\< s were horribly intellig* nt. 

"He slipped. He fell, He was shutting the 
door." I felt I could go on Baying that for eve* and 


The red patches in her clucks deepened. She 
spoke pasl me, rudely, furiously — 

" I intend to know. I've a perfect right 

Kent, I intend to know/' 

I put out my arms carelessly, though my heart 
was thudding, and rested them against the door- 

"He's shaken — a heavy man like that. Better 
leave him alone." 

" I intend to know," she insisted. And then — 
"Jenny! Jenny! Let me pass." 

"No!" I said. 

For a second we stood opposed, and in that second 
I realized literally for the first time (so dominating 
had her personality been) that she was shorter than 
I. She was dwindling before my eyes. 1 found my- 
self looking down at her with almost brutal com- 
posure. That I had ever been afraid of her was the 
marvel ! For I was young, and she was elderly. I 
was strong, and she was weak. Her bare arms were 
like sticks, but mine were round and supple, and I 
could feel the blood tingle in them as my grip tight- 
ened on the wood-work. She was only Anita Serle, 



the well-known writer; but I was Jenny Summer, 
and Kent was needing me. 

" Jenny — you will be sorry ! " Her eyes and her 
voice were one threat. Such eyes ! Eyes whose 
pupils had dilated till the irids were mere threads 
that encircled jealousy itself — jealousy black and 
bitter — jealousy that had stolen upon us as the fog 
had done, obscuring, soiling, stifling friend and enemy 
alike — jealousy of a gift and a great name, of a dead 
woman and a living man and their year of happiness 
— jealousy beyond reason, beyond pity — jealousy 
insatiable, already seeking out fresh food, turning 
deliberately, vengeful ly, upon Kent and upon 

I felt sick. I had never dreamed that there could 
be such feelings in the world. And now she was 
going to Kent, to probe and lacerate and poison — 

" No ! " I said. 

Actually she believed that she could pass me ! 

I still held fast by the door-posts, and she did not 
use her hands. We were silent and decorous, but 
for an instant our bodies fought. She was pressed 
against me, panting — 

"No!" I said. 

Then she fell away, and without another word 
turned and went back into the other room. 

I saw Miss Howe whisper some question. There 
was an instant's silence. Then her answer came — 

"' Much better leave him alone. Yes — rather 
shaken — a heavy man like that." 


It was defeat. She using my very words, 
because, for all her fluency, she had none with which 
to cover it. 

I was sorry. I felt a brute. But what else could I 
bave done ? I stood a moment watching her recover 
herself. Then I went back to Kent. 

He did not look up, but he moved a little to give 
me room. I sat down beside him. We were shut 
away between the wall and the window, in the 
shadow, out of sight of the others. It was very 
peaceful. Now and then I looked at Kent, but he 
was staring before him. He had forgotten all about 
me again, I knew. But I was content. It made me 
happy to be sitting by him. My thoughts hopped 
about like birds after crumbs. I remember wonder- 
ing what I should do on the morrow — where I should 
go ? That Anita would have me in the house another 
twenty-four hours was not likely. I had ten pounds. 
I did not care. I knew that I ought to be anxious, 
but I could not realize the need. I could not think 
of anything but him; yet I was afraid to speak to 
him. He sat so still. His face was set in schooled 
and heavy lines. There came a stir and a clash of 
voices from the other room, but he did not seem to 
hear it. It was only the end of a poem. In a little 
it had settled down again into the same monotonous 
hum, but for a moment I had thought that it was 
the break-up, and after that I had no peace. It had 
scared me. It made me realize that I had only a few 
minutes — half an hour at most — and that then he 



would be going away — and when should I see him 
again ? Never — maybe never ! He had his life 
all arranged. He didn't even know my name. I 
felt desperate. I couldn't let him go. I didn't 
know what to do. I only knew that — that I couldn't 
bear it if he went away from me. 

It was then that he moved and straightened him- 
self in his chair with a sigh, that heavy, long-drawn 
sigh that men give when they make an end. ' Work 

or play, joy or grief, it's done with. And now ? ' 

Such a sigh as you never hear from women. But 
then we are not wise at ending things. 

I thought that he was getting up, that he was 
going then and there, and instinctively I hurried 
into speech, daring anything — everything — his own 
thoughts of me — rather than let him go. 

" Yes — that's over ! " I translated softly. 

He turned with such a stare that I could have 

" I meant that. How did you know ? " 

" Why shouldn't I know ? " I did smile then. It 
made him smile back at me, but doubtfully, unwil- 

" Can you read thoughts — too? " The last word 
seemed to come out in spite of himself. 

" Not always. Yours I can." My face was burn- 
ing. But I could have spared myself the shame that 
made it burn, for he did not understand. My voice 
said nothing to him. My face showed him nothing. 
He was thinking about himself. But he leant for- 


L EG E N I) 

ward in that way he has a dear way of liking *" 
talk to you. 

"Can you? I never r;in. Only when I paint. 
I can |iiit them into paint, of course. But not words. 

She said " and all through the subsequent talk 

he avoided the name — "she said it was Laziness, a 
lazy mind. But I always told her that that was her 
fault. I — we — her people — were just wool: she 
knitted us into our patterns. She was a wonder. 
You know, she — she was good for one. She was like 

bread — bread and wine " His voice strained 

and flagged. 

I nodded. 

" Yes. I felt that too." 

He glanced sideways at me. 

"Ah, then you knew her?' His voice (or I 
imagined it) had chilled. It began to say, that faint 
chill, that if I too were of ' the set,' he could not be at 
ease. But I would not give him time to think awry. 

"No, no! Only tonight. But I do know her." 


" Tonight," I said and looked at him. 

"Then " his hand tightened on the chair, 

" you saw ? I was right ? You did see ? " 

" I saw — something," I admitted. 


I nodded. 

His face lighted up. He pulled in his chair to 

"Her hands — did you notice her hands? I have 



a drawing of them somewhere. Ill show it to 

you " He stopped short: Then — "What is 

your name ? " he asked me. 

" Jenny. Jenny Summer." 

He considered that fact for a moment and put 
it aside again. 

" I'd like you to see it. Anita will want it for 
that damned scrap-book of hers. She'll be worrying 
at me — they all will." 

" You won't let it go ? " I said quickly. 

He shook his head. 

" No. But they can't understand why. They 
can't understand anything. They thought I was 
mad just now. So I was, for that matter. To see 
her again, you know — to see her again " 

" I know," I said. 

He laughed nervously. 

" Hallucination, of course. Thought transference. 
What you please. They'd say so. Do you think 
so ? And I'd been thinking of my picture of her. 
Oh, I admit it. So we must look at the matter in the 
light of common-sense." 

" But I saw her too." 

His eyes softened, and his voice. 

" Yes. You were there. That's comfort. You 
saw her too — standing there with her dear hands 

full of cowslips " 

" A torch," I said. 

"Cowslips ' he checked on the word. 

" What?" 


"She \v;is carrying ;i candle, "* I insisted. " ll 

had just been lighted. She was holding it so care- 

We stared at each other. 

" You're sure? " 

He fell back wearily in his chair. 

"What's the good of talking? She's dead. 
That's the end of it. I was dreaming. Of course. 
But when you said that you saw, for a moment I 

believed What does it matter? What does 

it matter anyway? But her hands were full of 

I turned to him eagerly. 1 knew what to say. 
It was as if the words were being whispered to me. 

1 That was your Madala Grey. But mine — how- 
could she be the same ? Oh, can't you see ? We've 
nev< r seen the real Madala Grey. She gave — she 
became — to each of us — what we wanted most. 
She wrote down our dreams. She tiers our dreams. 
Can't you see what she meant to my cousin ? Anita 
toils and slaves for her little bit of greatness. But 
she was born royal. That's why Anita hates her 
so — hates her and worships her. Why, she's been a 
sort of star to you all — a symbol — a legend — 

But the real Madala Gray — she wasn't like that. 
She was just a girl. She was hungry all the time. 
She was wanting her human life. And he, the man 
they laugh at, ' the thing she married,' he did love 
that real Madala Grey. Why, he didn't even know 



of the legend. Don't you see that that was what 
she wanted ? She could take from him as well as 
give. Life — the bread and wine — they shared it. 
Oh, and it's him I pity now, not you. Not you," 
I said again, while my heart ached over him. " You 
— can't you see what she showed you ? Not her- 
self " 

" What then? " he said harshly. 

I made the supreme effort. 

" But what — a woman — one day — would be to 


I thought the silence would never break. 

The strange courage that had been in me was 
suddenly gone. I felt weak and friendless. I 
wanted to cry. I waited and waited till I could 
bear it no longer. Then I lifted my eyes desperately, 
with little hope, to read in his face what the end 
should be. 

I found him looking at me fixedly — at me, you 
understand, not through me to a subject that 
absorbed him, but at me myself. It was as if he 
were seeing me for the first time. No — as if he 
recognized me at last. 

Then the doubts went, and the shame and the 
loneliness. It made me so utterly happy, that look 
on his face. I felt my heart beating fast. 

He said then, slowly — I can remember the words, 
the tone and pitch of his voice, the very shaping of his 
mouth as he said it — 

" Do you know — it's strange — you remind me of 


LEG 1 : N I ) 

her. You arc very like her. You are very like 
Madala liny." 

The hunger in his voice hurt inc. I wanted to 
put my anus round him and comfort him. I might 
haV€ done it, for I knew I was still but half real to 
him. But I sat still only, with such a sense in 
my heart of a trust laid upon me, of an inheritance, 
of a widening and golden future, I said to him — 

"Y'es. I know." 


October 1917— April 1919. 

Printed in Qbiat Ukiiain by Bli iailli Clay & Sons, Limited, 





William de Morgan was engaged upon this novel during the 
last two or three years of his life, and at the time of his death 
in 1916 it was complete except for the last chapter. Fortun- 
ately the novelist left very full notes, which have enabled his 
wife, who had talked over the story with her husband at every 
stage of its progress, to finish the book in accordance with 
his intentions. 

" Mr. de Morgan had the priceless, incommunicable, never- 
to-be-defined gifts which the ultra-modern novelist too often 
lacks ; he could create characters which were not fractions of 
himself, and he could make a story out of their sayings and 
doings. . . . All the persons of the drama . . . are very much 
alive ... a gentle humour flickers, like summer lightning, 
over every page." — -Morning Post. 



" The book touches life at every point, and is, on the whole, 
truer to life than any previous novel of Mr. Phillpotts ; and 
ihere is in it less of the grim pain-dark atmosphere of Dartmoor 
and more of the bright sunniness of the river part." — Evening 



" Tells with infinite tenderness and humour a simple idyll of 
village lores and village ways." — Daily Graphic. 

"A pleasant change from the bewildering and superficial 
cleverness of so much of our modern fiction." — Pall Mall Gazette. 



Author of " The Three Black Penny s." 

" 'Java Head' is an exquisite piece of work, and one that 
will transport you from the prose of life into the regions of 
genuine romance." — Punch. 

WM. HEINEMANN, 21 Bedford Street, W.C. 2 




" ' Yellow Leaf strikes us as brine onc °' tne most perfect com- 
positions of the day."— Daily Chron. 



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personality with a savage truthfulness of delineation and an icy con- 
tempt for the heroic and the sentimental." — Times. 

"Strickland is alive as few figures in recent fiction have been. . . . 
Mr Maugham has certainly done nothing better than this book about 
him."- Punch. 



"A series of illuminations flashed on the system of mental and 
spiritual training practised at a school managed by Jesuits. Mr. 
Brendon's indictment is the more impressive for his scrupulous 
fairness." — Westminster Gazette. 










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56 William //> tint minn's List 

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White, Percy. Audria 1 6 

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Whitman, Sidney. Germau Memories 7 6 

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Whitney, Caspar. The Flowing Road 12 6 

Wickhoff, Franz. Roman Art 3G 

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Williams, Margery. The Late Returning 2 6 

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Willson, Beckles. The Life and Letters of James 

Wolfe 18 

Witt, Robert C. The Nation and its Art Treasures 1 
Wolfe, James. (See " Willson.") 

Wood, H. F. Avenged on Society 3 6 

Woodbury, Q. E. Swinburne 1 6 

Woolson, Q. A. Ferns and How to Grow Them... 2 6 

Worth, Nicholas. The Southerner 6 

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Wriothesley, W. The Ambassadress 6 

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Wyndham, Horace. The Queen's Service 3 6 

Yates, Lucy H. Modern Housecraft 2 6 

Yeats, W. B. (See "Contemporary Men of Letters.") 

Young, E. H. A Corn of Wheat 6 

Yonder 6 

Yoxall, Sir James, M.A., M.P. The Collector's 

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58 William Heinemann , » List 

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Plaster Saints 2 6 

They that Walk in Darkness 6 

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